Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Andi Bourne

Take steps to keep bears out of trouble before it is too late


Kathy Koors

A young grizzly bear gorging on glacier lilies and grass in Swan Valley Campground Bear Ranger Kathy Koors' yard.

Bags of trash littering driveways and streets in Seeley Lake is an all too common sight lately. Missoula Bears reports black and grizzly bears are active in Seeley Lake and are getting into trouble with bird feeders and uncontained garbage. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reminds everyone that attractants should have been secured by April 1 including garbage cans, livestock feed and pet food stored in bear resistant containers, bird feeders put away and livestock secured by an electric fence.

While unsecured attractants have been the main problem in Seeley Lake, Swan Valley Campground Bear Ranger Kathy Koors reported a young grizzly bear visiting her yard a few days in a row. It showed up about 5:30 p.m. for a few nights and busied itself gorging on the glacier lilies and green grass in the yard. She said it didn't show interest in getting into buildings.

"It should be wary of buildings, so by shouting, banging pots, pans, clapping hands, I was trying to show the bear to be fearful of home sites," wrote Koors in an email.

Koors recommends if residents see the same bear visit their yard more than once, they should safely discourage the bear by making loud noises, honk a vehicle horn, toss some rocks or clang some pots and pans.

"It's pretty safe for a bear to pass through but it really shouldn't set up camp," wrote Koors. "Discouraging bears from foraging in your yard helps to keep the bear wild and alive."

Koors has also noticed campers are not packing out their trash or securing their food at their campsite. This can set up the next unsuspecting camper for a problem with a bear that returns looking for an easy meal.

Additional recommendations

from FWP to keep bears wild and people safe:

• Store all attractants (animal feed, garbage, beer and pop cans, diapers, food stuffs, bird seed, etc.) in a building, locked enclosure or approved bear-resistant can.

• While feeding birds is legal in Montana, FWP asks that bird feeders be removed by April 1. Bears love bird seed and will get into it if it is spilled on the ground or the feeder is hung too low.

• Secure refrigerators and freezers on the porch. This can ONLY be effective with a metal clasp and lock.

• Bear-resistant cans and dumpsters are only effective if they are latched. Overfilling and not latching properly allows full access to all contents.

• Don't put out trash the night before trash pickup.

• Shut all the door and windows on sheds and garages.

• Stop feeding wildlife – everything the deer eats, a bear will eat.

• Secure chickens and other livestock with an electric fence.

In mid-April a grizzly bear was euthanized in the Blackfoot Valley after livestock depredation. As of May 8, FWP was monitoring a grizzly bear that accessed an open shed for grain in the Blackfoot Valley.

"Montana isn't off to a good year for bears," wrote Koors. "Let's flatten the curve."

For more information about bear and mountain lion activity or to file a report visit To report illegal activity call 1-800-TIP-MONT


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