From CSKT Natural Resources Department
The Tribal Wildlife Management Program has been actively pursuing two yearling male-orphaned cubs roaming the Charlo/Moiese area since late February. In September of 2018, their mother was illegally poached and killed, and this case is currently still under active investigation. With no mother to teach or guide them, they were forced to search for food in the Mission valley on their own.
During the months of February and March, the bears were spotted multiple times, comingling in cattle herds within the Charlo and Moiese area during calving season, without any reports of depredation. Unfortunately, their food choices lead to both of them being euthanized, possibly finding food within dead pits scattered within the valley. However, according to Wildlife Biologist Stacy Courville, in April they killed six sheep and injured three more. One of the male bears was euthanized at the beginning of May due to these depredations.
The CSKT Wildlife Management Program set a trap, hoping to capture the second bear, but these efforts were not successful. After repeated depredations, including sheep and calves, the second cub was euthanized the end of May. Ranchers are encouraged to set up permanent electric fences and remove or protect attractants. Defenders of Wildlife also offers a grizzly bear fencing incentive program, in which they offer up to $500 dollars to protect chicken coops, beehives, dumpsters. For more information on this project, please visit their website at https://defenders.org/press-release/defenders-expands-grizzly-bear-fencing-incentive-program
Grizzly bear habitat is expanding within the Mission valley and we have documented grizzly bears on the west side of U. S. Highway 93 more frequently. Typically, on the Flathead Indian Reservation, grizzly bear cubs will stay with their mother until they are two years of age. However, during breeding season, occasionally yearlings or two year olds will be observed during the daytime. They have most likely have been run off by their mother and will reunite after breeding has occurred.
CSKT Game Wardens remind the public that it is illegal and a violation of federal law to haze or shoot a grizzly bear to protect your livestock. Grizzly bears are currently listed as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act.
If you observe bear cubs, please report your observation as soon as possible to Tribal Dispatch at (406) 675-4700.