Bear Awareness field day held
November 17, 2022
Hooper Park in Lincoln was a hot spot for bear studies Sept. 28. Living safely in bear country was taught through four stations covering safe camping, guardian dogs, bear identity and personal safety. Eighty K-12 Lincoln students attended and rotated through the stations.
"With more bear activity and more people getting out exploring, we're trying to find ways to keep people safe, keep bears wild and minimize conflicts," said Elaine Caton, Education Coordinator for Blackfoot Challenge, who hosted the workshop.
A camp site showcasing proper attractant storage with a focus on keeping attractants away from bears was displayed by Eric Graham, Wildlife Coordinator for Blackfoot Challenge. Students were led in brainstorming bear attractants that might be around homes and what to do to minimize attractants.
Livestock guardian dogs and electric fencing was discussed by Jamie Stitt, Cooper Creek Ranch, Helmville. Moose, Stitt's Anatolian Shepherd/Turkish Kangal dog showcased how well socialized a guard dog can be. In addition to Moose, Stitt uses electric fence to protect cattle, chickens and pigs from grizzly and black bears.
Danielle Oyler, Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks taught personal safety around bears. Older students had the chance to spray an inert can of bear spray toward a bear silhouette that moved towards them via a rope system.
Students learned about where bears move through different habitats and practiced locating a hidden radio bear collar with telemetry equipment with Amber Kornak, grizzly bear conflict specialist, United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bear ecology, biology and identification was taught by Patty Bartlett, independent educator. Using bear hides and skulls, different bear species were discussed and identified.
The Blackfoot Challenge Education Committee chose to provide a Bear Awareness Day in Lincoln in the pattern of similar events held for the Seeley Lake and Ovando/Helmville schools.