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Black bear relocated near Helena

A black bear pokes his head out of a trap Friday afternoon, before scampering off into the woods of the Big Belt Mountains.

After a long drive out of town and away from the Helena city limits to a more natural habitat, a 180-pound black bear was released Friday morning.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Dave Loewen said he darted the bear Thursday evening around 6 p.m. in a residential area on South Park Avenue. Loewen said the bear was eating birdseed from a bird feeder and to get the best shot, he had to hang out of the window of the residence.

It was the first time being relocated for this particular approximately 4-year-old male, but that’s not always the case.

“Sometimes these relocations just don’t work,” Loewen admitted. “Sometimes we relocate them two or three times and it just doesn’t work.”

However, Loewen is hopeful that the remote location miles from any bird feeders high in the Big Belt Mountains will prevent the bear from returning to the urban areas. Only

time will tell.

“I’m hoping he doesn’t find his way back to town,” he said moments before the trap was opened and the bear quickly ran into the woods.

Bears are always tagged so officials can determine if they’ve been into trouble before and where they were relocated to.

Loewen said there have been more calls about bears than usual in the past few weeks.

“It’s hot outside and they are looking for food,” he said.

It’s the second day in a row for bear trouble around Helena. Game warden Brenna White set up a trap at Montana City School on Thursday after a bear was seen not far from the playground. The trap at the school is still set.

Shortly after arriving back at his office Friday, Loewen received a call about another bear from a resident on Crazy Mountain Road in Montana City. Loewen darted the bear and quickly had it in the trap.

The bear was a yearling male and was not the same one from the schoolyard. The one in custody had an ear tag and the one at the school did not, Loewen said.

The bear in the trap was removed from a residential area out by Canyon Ferry Lake on Aug. 31 and relocated to Marsh Creek out past Canyon Creek.

“So within two weeks he’s in the Elkhorns,” Loewen said. “That really underscores the ground these bears can cover and have such a sense to get back to where they came from.”

Food is a driving force.

“If there is some sort of reward for their efforts, they return for the reward,” he said.

Loewen said residents, especially those on the south edge of town, should keep bird feeders put away, particularly at night.

Garbage cans and dog food should also be put away because they attract animals such as bears, White said Thursday.

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