A small black bear killed after rummaging through trash at a Miles City residence on Memorial Day has prompted Fish, Wildlife & Parks to remind southeastern Montanans to be bear aware.

The bear fled after FWP wardens arrived, avoiding hazing attempts, but it returned to the area twice more that evening. The final time it entered the garage in search of trash. It emerged when confronted by the resident and ran to the neighbor’s home, where it was shot by the homeowner.

Wardens were informed of the incident, and the bear was removed.

Montana law allows people to kill a bear to defend themselves, another person or a domestic dog. People may be able to avoid this situation, however, with preventive efforts.

Once a bear finds easy sources of human food it can become conditioned to favor them over more difficult-to-find and less calorie-laden natural bear foods. And a bear seeking human foods is certain to come in conflict sooner or later with people. The most effective way to save Montana's bears is to remove any attractants that may draw them into close proximity with people.

“Most bear problems are from attractants,” said Region 7 warden Frank Blundetto.

It is important that people are aware of what attracts bears and do everything possible to secure those items.

Common bear attractants include:

  • Human garbage. Garbage should be stored where bears can neither smell nor gain access to it, either in a bear-proof container or inside a building.
  • Bird feeders. Avoid using bird feeders from March through November; birds don't need supplemental feed at this time, and bird seed is irresistible to bears.
  • Barbecue grills. Grills often contain food residue and grease.
  • Carcasses.
  • Beehives. Hives, honey and bee larvae are especially attractive to bears.
  • Compost. Anything other than grasses and leaves should not be composted outdoors.
  • Fruit and vegetables. Pick fruit and vegetables as they ripen, and plant your garden as far away from your house as possible.
  • Plants. Avoid plants that attract bears, and use native plant landscaping whenever possible.
  • Salt licks, grain or deer blocks.
  • Pet food. Avoid feeding pets outside at dawn or dusk when bears are most active and do not leave their food unattended at any time.

There have been other reports of bears in close proximity to rural residences this season in Region 7, and attractants were also present in those cases.

“It’s not uncommon for bears to travel down river corridors and show up on the edge of a town,” Blundetto said.

Anyone seeing a bear close to residences, people, pets or livestock in Region 7 should call the regional office at 406-234-0900 or contact Blundetto at 406-853-7900.

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