Some bruins bearing winter out of dens in west-central Montana

Grizzlies are emerging from their winter dens in the mountains and traveling to lower elevations looking for early green plants.


It’s a hallmark trait of bears, a characteristic known even by small children: bruins hibernate through winter.

Except, this year around Missoula, many of them aren’t.

From neighborhood “trash bears” to near-city grizzlies feeding on frozen roadkill all season — plus, rural grizzly tracks spotted amid a frigid and snowy February — bears in west-central Montana are active in greater number and frequency than normal for this time of year.

The phenomenon isn’t consistent across the state: The Rocky Mountain Front around Choteau, for example, seems to be having a more normal winter. Meanwhile, Jamie Jonkel, a veteran bear manager in the Missoula area, has never seen so many bears active throughout winter. Jonkel, a bear management specialist with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 2, isn’t completely sure why it’s happening.

People are also reading…

But, he said Monday, “I’ve got some theories.” His theories differ by species, but

View Source