FWP News: Multi-year black bear population and habitat study expands to more areas around state
By angelamontana

Posted: May 20, 2024

HELENA – This month, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks researchers will begin the second season of a multi-year study on black bears aimed at better understanding and estimating the population across the state.

FWP staff will collect hair samples by setting up barbed wire hair corrals west of Kalispell. In addition, about 20 bears will be captured and collared to collect the GPS data on in western and central Montana.

This black bear monitoring program will ultimately help FWP gain an accurate and timely understanding of the black bear populations, accounting for regional differences, to better inform management decisions. The study will provide estimates on bear abundance and distribution and provide insights on how they use available habitats. Biologists will also better assess how hunter harvest and habitat quality and availability are impacting black bear populations. Managers will be able to make more informed season adjustments and recommendations based on monitoring results. The study will also provide insights on survival rates and causes of mortality.

While genetic sampling will occur in northwest Montana, GPS collaring efforts will be replicated not only in northwest Montana but several other areas around the state including the Ninemile Creek drainage and O’Brien Creek near Missoula; the Pioneer, Boulder and Gravely mountains in southwest Montana; the Little Belt Mountains and Rocky Mountain Front; and the Beartooth Front and Boulder River in south-central Montana.

Hair corral sites will be surrounded by bright orange warning signs to prevent safety issues and all sites will be removed before the fall archery season begins. Trapping locations for GPS collaring will be marked by closure signs and members of the public are required to stay out of these areas due to increased safety risks.

Montana is bear country. If you are recreating or working outdoors in Montana, it is always a good idea to carry bear spray in case of a surprise bear encounter. For more tips on bear safety, go to fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear.


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