A bear broke into a car window, absconded with a sandwich and took off in Anaconda earlier this month, said Joe Kambic, Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden.
FWP has set traps to capture that bear and another who is reportedly getting into residents’ garbage, mostly in the west valley section of the Smelter City. Kambic said that if the bears are repeat garbage offenders, they will be euthanized.
Kambic said that as much as the agency can, it relocates bears when the animals come to town and that he’ll seek out a spot roughly 50 miles away. But, Kambic said, he’s relocated a bear in the past only to find the bear got back to town before he did.
“We try to put them into a suitable habitat to keep them content. They're smart and they know where their groceries are. Some are lazy and knock over cans but some want to be actual bears. If we catch them quick and they’re young, usually we have good success with relocating them,” he said.
Kambic set out two traps but he is having trouble catching the two who are currently calling Anaconda home. He said the traps look like a culvert with food at one closed end. When the bear takes the food, it activates a door to shut on the opposite end.
He said bears are mostly active at night and he checks the traps early in the morning, so the bears don’t overheat.
Kambic said there is much that residents can do to help — both themselves and the bears.
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He said getting bear-proof garbage containers, or simply waiting to put out trash until it’s time for the garbage collector to make the rounds, can go a long way in keeping bears in check.
But, bears are so smart that they have been known to come along at 5 a.m. to collect the garbage before the garbage collecting truck makes the rounds at 6 a.m., Kambic said.
Even things like barbecue grills, bird seed or hummingbird feeders can attract the bears. If the bears become too habituated to human nourishment, the situation can grow to the point where the bears will break into houses to steal a meal. Once a bear gets into breaking and entering, FWP will kill the bear.
The bear that broke into a car earlier this month was emboldened by a slightly open window and a sandwich sitting on the seat, Kambic said.
Kambic said it’s not unusual for bears to wander into Anaconda. Warm Springs Creek draws the mammals, which can weigh as much as 600 pounds when grown.
But during this time of year, in particular, bears are not infrequent visitors to the town, Kambic said. That’s because autumn is on the way.
“This time of year they make a pretty good run just before fall, trying to get fat for hibernation,” Kambic said.