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Grizzly bear file

File photo

The wandering grizzly bear that spent the summer in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area has turned its trek into a loop.

The 3-year-old bruin has returned to the Cabinet Mountains in northwestern Montana, said Wayne Kasworm, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Libby.

The bear hasn’t denned yet and is likely looking for a last meal or two before it does so.

“From where he is, I don’t doubt he is looking for gut piles or wounded animals,” Kasworm said. “Our hunting season is in full swing.”

The bear will likely dig a den in the next few weeks. Kasworm said all of the female grizzly bears he tracks have already denned for the winter. The males typically den a few weeks later.

The grizzly bear, which is wearing a collar that allows Kasworm to track its movements, was released into the Cabinet Mountains last year as part of an effort to augment the population there. It soon moved south into Idaho and was recaptured and returned to Montana after visiting a black bear bait station. The bear again headed south and into Idaho that summer, before returning to the Cabinets to den for the winter.

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This spring, the bear traveled south into Idaho again. It eventually crossed into the North Fork of the Clearwater River Basin from the St. Joe River drainage in June and then crossed U.S. Highway 12 and the Lochsa River to reach the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in July. It spent most of the summer moving within the remote area and this fall started slowly moving north. Kasworm said it has been in the Cabinet Mountains for about two weeks.

“In a way I’m surprised he made it all the way back here, but that is what he is doing,” Kasworm said.

Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com or at 208-848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

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