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Bear running around Billings South Side killed

Bear running around Billings South Side killed


A male black bear running around the South Side of Billings early Thursday morning was chased up a tree and then killed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 

The bear was on the run for a little over an hour after the Billings Police Department was first called about it at around 4 a.m. It was initially spotted near the main post office in a field behind Passages, at 1001 S. 27th St. Passages is a women's correctional facility and pre-release center.

That would put the bear's initial location roughly off South 27th Street near Ninth Avenue South and Lillian Avenue. Later the bear was reported to be around South Park. It's believed that the bear moved through multiple neighborhoods.

From the time it was seen, the bear traveled slightly less than a mile before it was killed. Police received multiple calls about the bear's activity. No injuries to people or pets were reported.

Explaining the decision to kill the bear, Billings FWP information and education manager Bob Gibson said that the bear appeared accustomed to humans.

"When kids get up and ready to go to school and people start getting up and going to work and things, those are the kinds of places you just don't want a bear in a densely populated urban area," Gibson said.

It's suspected, but unconfirmed, that the bear is one of several that have been active in Blue Creek and Briarwood for most of the summer "eating garbage and being accustomed to people, getting into trees and houses and things like that," Gibson said.

The animal was estimated to weigh about 150 pounds, which would be consistent with a 3-year-old or young adult bear, Gibson said.

In a social media post early Thursday morning BPD Sgt. Glenn Gunther described the bear as "running through south side neighborhoods."

The animal was treed and fatally shot with a shotgun at Second Avenue South and South 35th Street by FWP at about 5:10 a.m., almost a mile from where it was first seen.

"We have had instances in not all that distant history where bears were taken way up into the mountains and they found their way to the closest garbage can or closest camp or closest place where humans are because they know that's a good place to get high protein food for winter fattening," Gibson said. 

In some instances relocation is an option of a bear isn't accustomed to humans and appears to inadvertently wander into town, according to Gibson.

There have been multiple other black bear sightings this summer in and around Billings.

In May a hunter legally harvested a black bear that was treed around Laurel. In July a person walking their dog on Norm's Island came across a black bear. Two to three different black bears were reported in the Briarwood area south of Billings over the span of a few days in late July.


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