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Food-conditioned grizzly put down in Swan valley

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An adult female grizzly bear was euthanized Tuesday after the sow and three cubs became food-conditioned and broke into structures to obtain grain.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured the bears in the Swan Valley. In accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines, the adult female was euthanized due to food conditioning, which occurs when wildlife lose natural foraging habits.

Two of the cubs are being sent to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. FWP was unable to capture the third cub and it stopped showing up at the trap site. Traps were pulled from the field and the cub will be given an opportunity to survive on its own.

Dillon Tabish, a spokesperson for FWP, said so far this year in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, 31 known or probable grizzly bear mortalities occurred. Of those, two were moved to the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem, which is recorded as a mortality by FWP. The two cubs also are included as mortalities, since they were moved to the Discovery Center where they'll live in captivity.

"One of those mortalities is the cub that we left in the wild and it's counted as a mortality because of the potential for it to not survive on its own," Tabish wrote in an email to the Missoulian.

During late summer and early fall, bears are increasingly active and eating as much as they can to prepare for winter denning. FWP reminds homeowners to keep attractants secured. Attractants include garbage, pet and livestock food, birdfeeders, and fruit trees, but also include livestock, compost, gardens, outdoor food cookers, and beehives.

The best way to secure an attractant is to make it inaccessible to the animal by containing it within a secure hard-sided building. Certified bear-resistant containers are useful in preventing the bear from learning that garbage could become a food source.

If containment inside a secure structure is not practical, properly installed and maintained electric fencing is an effective tool. Loud noise, such as banging pots and pans, using an air horn or your car alarm, or shouting, is also a simple yet effective short-term way to deter a bear. Other temporary and short-term deterrents include high decibel motion-activated alarms, sprinkler systems, motion lights and radios turned on at night.

Residents are encouraged to report bear activity as soon as possible. To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP bear management specialists at 406-250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call 406-250-0062. To report bear activity in the Cabinet-Yaak area, call 406-291-1320.

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