FWP News: Increased enforcement on improper wildlife attractant storage in Red Lodge
By angelamontana

Posted: August 28, 2023

City officials, FWP working together on ongoing issue

RED LODGE – The City of Red Lodge and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks are working together to increase enforcement action on improper bear attractant storage, particularly garbage, in Red Lodge. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of food-conditioned and human-habituated bears in Red Lodge due to improper attractant storage. Food-conditioned bears can become dangerous, and the euthanasia of such bears is often the only course of action to keep humans and property safe. To protect public safety and ensure bears stay wild in the Red Lodge area, FWP and city officials are more actively enforcing code violations for attractants and improper containment of waste.

Montana state law and Red Lodge regulations prohibit the feeding of wildlife including bears, or otherwise handling waste which becomes a wildlife attractant.

For the City of Red Lodge, these regulations are outlined in Municipal Codes 5-5A-5 Wild Animals and 4-1-16 Solid Waste and are available online at https://library.qcode.us/lib/red_lodge_mt/pub/municipal_code.

For the state of Montana, this law is outlined in Montana Code Annotated 87-6-216 Unlawful Supplemental Feeding — Exemption and is available online: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/index.html.

It is the responsibility of every resident and property owner in the community to store attractants properly, including garbage. The City of Red Lodge, through a contract with Republic Services, provides bear-resistant garbage bins to residents. Residents are legally required to utilize these bins properly to mitigate food-conditioning of wildlife. If a bin malfunctions residents should immediately report the situation to Red Lodge officials at 406-446-1606 or Republic Services 406-252-5721 ext. 4 to get a replacement bin. Ensuring proper attractant storage at rentals is the responsibility of the property manager and/or the property owner.

Montana is bear country. Bears are naturally curious omnivores and are very food-driven. Allowing bears to access attractants, including garbage, puts people and bears at risk, as bears easily become conditioned to specific food sources and will return to places where they have acquired food. Securing and storing attractants properly is critical for the safety of both people and bears. Verbal or written warnings and education efforts for violations will be attempted before fines are issued.

Red Lodge is a unique and beautiful place to live with abundant access to recreational activities and outdoor spaces, but it is also situated along a heavily used wildlife movement corridor. Bears have used this corridor along the Rock Creek drainage for generations to access natural food resources, making them frequent visitors to the Red Lodge area. City officials and FWP ask that everyone in Red Lodge—permanent residents and visitors—do their part to live responsibly with bears and allow them to maintain their traditional movement patterns to access vital natural food sources for winter survival.

To report an attractant storage violation, send location information and any additional details, including photos, to:

  • FWP: 1-800-TIP-MONT or the Billings FWP office at 406-247-2940
  • City of Red Lodge: Courtney Long, clong@cityofredlodge.com, 406-446-1606 ext. 118 or PO Box 9, Red Lodge, MT 59068

For more information on living in bear country, visit: fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/be-bear-aware/living-bear-country

For instructions on using Kodiak bear-resistant garbage cans, visit: www.cityofredlodge.net/sites/default/files/fileattachments/public_works/page/11901/unlatch-instructions.pdf


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