Urban black bear gets into garbage cans in Missoula's Hip Strip neighborhood

David Erickson

Millions of years of evolution have given bears an uncanny ability and desire to make a meal out of just about anything, even if it’s garbage in a dense residential neighborhood a few hundred yards from downtown Missoula.

An alley behind Bernice’s Bakery near the Hip Strip was ransacked by a small black bear on Mother’s Day weekend, with dozens of residents waking to find their garbage cans tipped over and spilled in the dirt.

Claire Rawlings Gilder first saw the bear in October and applied to get a bear-resistant trash container from Republic Services immediately. She’s been on a waiting list since then, and her 95-gallon container finally arrived on Friday.

“It’s frustrating,” she said. “I don’t know if we just weren’t a priority because they don’t think of this as a bear neighborhood. They prioritize Grant Creek and the Rattlesnake and whatever, which makes sense, but we had a bear and therefore we needed a bear can.”

She doesn’t have a garage, so she’s been storing her accumulating trash in her mudroom where it stinks up the house. Also, she’s aware that the apartment complex behind her house and many of the renting households nearby aren’t going

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