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GREAT FALLS - State wildlife officials said Wednesday a pair of grizzly bears have been spotted near the Missouri River between Great Falls and Fort Benton.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Capt. Mike Martin said the bears are not causing any problems, but the agency wanted people in the area to be observant. The bears were seen Tuesday evening near Floweree and were later seen traveling toward the Missouri River.

"They just stopped and looked at us," said Diane Walker, who ranches near Floweree. "They didn't seem to be frightened or anything."

If the bears stay in one area, FWP will try to capture and relocate them.

Last June, a lone grizzly wandered down the Teton River about 100 miles from the Rocky Mountain Front. The yearling bear was captured after eating a sheep near Loma and was relocated in the Flathead National Forest west of Marias Pass.

Mike Madel, a grizzly bear management specialist with FWP, said bears on the fringes of the core grizzly ecosystem in north-central Montana are moving into new areas on all sides, but the development is more dramatic east of the Front because the country there is so open.

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"Biologically, it's just a function of population expansion," he said.

 

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