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By Andi Bourne

Bear Problems Starting Around Seeley – Reminder to Secure Attractants


Photo provided

A homemade garbage enclosure in Seeley Lake that keeps bears from getting a reward that would keep them coming back.

SEELEY LAKE – A few bears have been reported around Seeley Lake getting into garbage, bird feeders and a freezer on a porch. FWP Bear Biologist James Jonkel asks residents to properly store all attractants to keep the bears from becoming problem bears that need to be removed.

There is a collared grizzly boar that has been hanging around north of town around Boy Scout Road. It was caught as a non-target bear in a trap on the Flathead Indian Reservation and was collared.

Jonkel said this is the first time they have seen him in the area. He has been checking out a few places in the Boy Scout Road area for garbage, which concerned Jonkel that he is starting up.

"I wanted to get word out that we don't want to have another Rainy situation," said Jonkel.

In 2010, Rainy was one of the local female grizzlies that stumbled on garbage and slowly started getting into trouble. She and her two cubs found chickens, pet food and other human food that was carelessly left out. The bears' behavior escalated and became potentially dangerous as she continued taking her cubs up onto porches and at one residence attempted to get in the door while the family was home.

Rainy and one of her cubs were trapped and taken to the Tulsa Zoo. Her second cub was hit and killed while crossing Highway 83.

"Rainy fell victim to a lot of messy people," said Jonkel. "The grizzly bear [north of Seeley] hasn't done anything really heinous. We just don't want him learning more bad habits."

Right now they are monitoring the male grizzly. The garbage at the residence he got into has been secured with bear resistant garbage cans so they will not reward his behavior again.

Last week a black bear got into a freezer that was on a porch in Seeley Lake.

There are also a couple of black bears that have been reported on the Double Arrow Ranch that are going from house to house looking for bird feeders.

"Bird feeders are just like a death nail for bears," said Jonkel. "Every sunflower seed is like a nail in their coffin."

Jonkel said that removal and containment of the attractant is the first step. Trapping and removal is the last step.

"The bear is not the problem, the attractant is the problem," said Jonkel. "Sadly all it takes is one or two people doing something goofy to train a bear up and then they go start hitting up other people who are doing everything right."

While Jonkel recommends bear resistant garbage cans, they are expensive and in a couple of years of use they are dysfunctional from the wear and tear from the garbage trucks.

"The best way, if you can't keep your garbage in a garage or in a horse trailer is to build a really nice garbage enclosure out of metal," said Jonkel. "It is a perfect solution."

Enclosures allow for cans of any size and shape, loose garbage bags and overflow from the cans if the lid does not close. While wood can be used, it increases the chance that a bear could tear into it.

Photo provided

A horse trailer converted into a garbage enclosure.

Jonkel said enclosures should be placed away from the house and not next to a dog house or child's play area.

"If everyone kept a clean ship and there were no food attractant rewards, then the bear's behavior never develops," said Jonkel. "Let's not teach them what garbage and bird feeders are in the first place and then we don't have a problem."

For more information visit and find Missoula Bears on Facebook. Updates about bears and mountain lions are posted and provides the most current information. There is also information about community resources available to help reduce human-bear conflicts.

To report a problem residence or business call 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668). Tips are anonymous and can be eligible for a reward.


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