Grizzly bear

A grizzly bear roams near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park.

State bear managers had to kill a young grizzly in the Blackfoot Valley on Sunday after it repeatedly raided a barn in search of grain.

“In 2018, we had the highest bear conflict year on record in the Blackfoot,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist Jamie Jonkel said in a release. “Some of what we’re seeing now is young bears that were taught bad behavior last year, returning and looking for livestock feed and other attractants.”

This bear was showing food-conditioned behavior, which Jonkel said is a very difficult habit for a grizzly to unlearn. That can result in their hanging around homes and agricultural operations and getting bolder in their attempts to acquire livestock or human food supplies.

Fires in 2018 and last winter’s heavy snowpack have displaced some high-country bears into lower elevations along the Blackfoot River drainage in search of food this spring. Jonkel said a good berry crop along the valley bottoms also drew bears to the area last fall.

“It is important to keep bear attractants such as garbage, pet and livestock food and chickens, behind electric fences or inside a secure structure,” Jonkel said. “If bears are able to find these things easily, then they tend to stay in the area looking for more.”

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Natural Resources & Environment Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter for The Missoulian.