daryl hunter grizzly

Grizzly bears like this sow and cubs make popular photo targets in Yellowstone National Park, and quickly develop social media fan clubs. That has complicated the debate over delisting the bears from federal protection in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Courtesy Daryl Hunter

Flathead-area wildlife officials had to kill a female grizzly bear after she and her cubs started prowling people’s porches looking for food.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear manager Tim Manley captured the sow and both yearling cubs near Ferndale last week. Over the past two years, the adult grizzly and then her offspring were known to have killed chickens, ducks and rabbits, as well as raid bird feeders, cat food and horse grain in the area.

“In the last two months, they also fed on waffles that had been put out to feed deer,” FWP spokesman John Fraley said in an email. “After that, the bears became climbing up on porches and looking into windows. They also opened shed doors to gain access to livestock feed and deer that had been harvested.”

The 226-pound female had been captured and relocated twice before, in 2014 and 2015. After getting caught the third time near Loon Lake, a committee of bear managers concluded she was too habituated to human food to return to the wild. She was killed on July 15.

The sow’s 104-pound female yearling and 123-pound male yearling were also captured, and are now held at the FWP Wildlife Center in Helena. They will be transferred to a zoo as soon as one has space available.

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Natural Resources & Environment Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter for The Missoulian.