Grizzly and black bears are emerging from dens, based on radio collar locations, track reports, and observations. Biologists say that males tend to emerge earlier than females; with the warming weather and increasing day length, more bears will be emerging in the coming weeks. As grizzly and black bears emerge, they will be moving to lower elevations to take advantage of the green-up of vegetation.
After a bear emerges, it takes a few weeks for its digestive system to get back to normal; the bear has been in the den for 4-5 months without eating, defecating, or urinating; the stomach and digestive system is empty so the bear starts out eating dry grass or roughage to activate the digestive system. Bears will be attracted to anything that smells like food.
By April 1st, residents should take down bird feeders, secure garbage inside a closed garage or secure shed, feed pets inside, clean up chicken and livestock feed, and in general remove all odorous substances that can draw bears. Instead of putting out hummingbird feeders we recommend putting up hanging baskets of flowers instead.
In Montana, it is illegal to intentionally feed ungulates, mountain lions, and bears. This includes putting out grain, deer blocks, mineral blocks, sunflower seeds, garbage, meat scraps, bread, doughnuts, brownies, and other food.
A properly installed and maintained electric fence is an excellent way to protect livestock, poultry, beehives, rabbits, fruit trees, and gardens from bears. FWP has brochures and a webpage where you can get additional information on electric fencing at: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware/bearAwareTools.html.
If bears come around your residence, bang pots and pans to scare off the bear; call FWP for assistance. Hikers, mountain bikers, hunters, and other recreationalists should carry bear spray, keep it readily available for use, and know how to use it.
For more information contact the following Wildlife Management Specialists: Tim Manley, 250-1265; Erik Wenum, 250-0062; Kim Annis, 291-1320.