FWP reports grizzly bear sightings in Missoula area, 3 confirmed in Bitterroot in 3 days

Jess Abell

With grizzly bears getting captured in the Sapphire Mountains and photographed on the fringe of the Missoula Valley, state wildlife officials are expanding their outreach efforts to avoid conflicts this summer.

Last Monday a grizzly bear was captured at a black bear research trapping site at MPG Ranch in the northern Sapphire Mountains near Florence. The 275-pound, 3-year-old adult male had previously been tagged as part of a pre-emptive capture in the southern Flathead Valley in December of 2021 by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal wildlife managers. FWP Bitterroot Bear Manager Bruce Montgomery and a co-worker collared and released the grizzly on Monday after it was determined to have no history of conflicts with humans.

Then, 22 hours later, another grizzly showed up at the same site. It was not caught. In addition to those two bears, a young male grizzly who was documented in the Bitterroot Valley last fall recently crossed Interstate 90, according to Montgomery, and is now in the Sapphire Mountains — making three confirmed grizzly bear sightings in the Bitterroot Valley in three days.

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