Orphaned Ninemile bear, out early, gets second chance
An emaciated yearling bear has another chance at life after being captured in the Ninemile area Tuesday and sent to a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Helena Wednesday.
The male bear, which got into a chicken coop at the McCormick Ranch and feasted on eggs, is just the latest episode in a winter of abnormally high bear activity around the Missoula and Blackfoot valleys. Perhaps due to a food failure for bears across the state, central-western Montana has seen a lot of black and grizzly bears holding off on hibernation until mid-winter, emerging from hibernation in mid-winter, or foregoing hibernation altogether.
This particular bear was likely one of as many as 40 cubs orphaned last fall because of the food failure, according to Jamie Jonkel, a bear management specialist with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 2.
The bear, now just barely a yearling, probably “was denned up … and what little fat reserves he did have he used up, and started to fade away,” Jonkel said. “The muscle mass was being consumed by his body, so he had to come out. He had to find food.”
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