GREAT FALLS - Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will host a series of bear educational programs in central Montana this spring, addressing the biology and status of bears in the area, along with focused discussion and hands-on examples of how to prevent conflicts on the farm and ranch, at home, and when recreating outdoors.

“As grizzly bears continue expanding their range in central Montana, FWP wants to engage with more communities and outdoor recreationists to increase human safety and conflict prevention awareness,” said Chad White, bear management specialist in Choteau.

Dates and locations:

  • March 7 – Cascade, Wedsworth Library, 13 Front St North, 6 p.m., electric fence demo and bear spray education
  • March 7 – Valier, Valier High School, 6 p.m., annual update
  • April 16 – Cascade, Wedsworth Library, 13 Front St North, 6 p.m., co-sponsored by Sun River Watershed Group, with a special focus on anglers and recreation
  • April 17 - Winifred School, 7 p.m.
  • April 21,Choteau, Teton Bear Smart event at Choteau WeatherBeater 3rd Ave SE, 2 – 4 p.m., electric fence demo and bear spray education
  • May 16 – Fairfield, Ambulance Training Center, 15 1st St SW, 6:30 p.m.
  • May 29 – Bynum, Dinosaur Center, 5 p.m.

“If drought conditions of the past months continue into the summer there will be a higher chance of a failed berry crop this year, which will have bears searching for more non-natural foods to meet their nutritional requirements,” said Wesley Sarmento, Conrad area bear management specialist. “In a dry year like this, ensuring that any attractants are secured is especially important for keeping bears away from homes, so it’s always a focus for us to work with homeowners and ag producers to help minimize the potential for conflicts.”

The programs are free, open to the public, and facilitated by FWP bear management specialists.

Be bear aware

Montana is bear country with populations of grizzly and black bears that frequent higher and lower elevations, especially river corridors.

Avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with conflicts. Here are some precautions to help residents, recreationists and people who work outdoors avoid negative bear encounters:

  • Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.
  • Make noise to alert bears to your presence and travel in groups.
  • Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
  • Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
  • Keep garbage, bird feeders, pet food and other attractants put away in a secure building. Keep garbage in a secure building until the day it is collected. Certified bear-resistant garbage containers are available in many areas.
  • Never feed wildlife. Bears that become food conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose threats to human safety. It is illegal to feed bears in Montana.

For more information on living, working and recreating in Montana’s bear country, visit the FWP Bear Aware website  .

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