Bitterroot bear activity increasing as hibernation looms

Jess Abell

As the nights get cooler and fall begins to set in, bears will become more active as they search for food in preparation for hibernation.

And with a poor huckleberry crop, they may come closer to people’s homes this year in search of garbage and other attractants than in years’ past.

“This is the time of year when bears go into what’s known as hyperphagia,” Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Bear Conflict Technician Bruce Montgomery said. “Their activity levels increase as they push harder to find enough calories to build up fat reserves for the winter. This year, it’s a little different, because there seems to be a natural food failure going on. Most people I’ve talked to told me, ‘Hey, I went to my normal huckleberry spot, and I wasn’t able to find anything.’ And so what we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks is this increased activity levels picking up, and picking up a little earlier than it normally would. So we think that this is due to the lack of natural foods.”

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