Big Sky Roundup

FWP euthanizes ‘food-conditioned’ grizzly near Hungry Horse that damaged boats

By: - July 20, 2023 12:25 pm

Grizzly bear (Courtesy of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service).

Wildlife officers captured and euthanized a grizzly bear earlier this week near Hungry Horse Reservoir that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said had become food conditioned and habituated to humans.

FWP spokesperson Dillon Tabish said the department’s staff captured the subadult male grizzly on Monday after it damaged boats beached onshore and repeatedly approached people near Murray Bay on the eastern side of the reservoir.

Tabish said in a news release the boats did not have food aboard and that efforts to haze the animal away were unsuccessful. He said the reports and additional video of the bear showed it had become conditioned to humans and their food.

FWP decided along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines to euthanize the grizzly.

“Once a bear has become food-conditioned, hazing and aversive conditioning are unlikely to be successful in reversing this type of behavior,” Tabish said in the release. “Food-conditioned and habituated bears are not relocated due to human safety concerns.”

The department provided the following contact numbers for people in northwest Montana to report bear conflicts in various areas:

  • North portion of Flathead County and Eureka area – Justine Vallieres, 406-250-1265
  • South portion of Flathead County – Erik Wenum, 406-250-0062
  • Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem and Sanders County – Kim Annis, 406-291-1320
  • Flathead Indian Reservation – Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program, 406-275-2774

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Blair Miller
Blair Miller

Blair Miller is a reporter based in Helena who primarily covers government, climate and courts. He's been a journalist for more than 12 years, previously based in Denver, Albuquerque and mid-Missouri.