Bears seeking food sources ahead of hibernation

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Bears are working to pack on the fat before they hibernate and that can lead to encounters with hunters who have bagged a deer or elk. (Photo courtesy Chuck Bartlebaugh)

Montana is bear country. Black bears and grizzly bears are very active right now as denning season approaches. Bears are actively seeking food sources before winter, and residents are advised to clean up or secure food attractants, such as garbage, dog food, and livestock. Bears are particularly seeking out natural fruits, such as berries, and domestic fruits, such as apples and pears. Residents are advised to pick up any fallen fruit from their property to help prevent attracting a bear.

Chicken and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door. Recreationists are urged to “Be Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts, such as traveling in groups and making noise. Hunters should always remain vigilant and remember that moving slowly and quietly increases your chances of surprise encounters and game-calling mimics prey.

Bear spray is an effective deterrent and everyone, especially hunters, is encouraged to carry it in the outdoors.

More safety information is available on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website, fwp.mt.gov. Residents can call FWP regional offices to learn more about bears or to report bear activity. In northwest Montana, call 406-752-5501.

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