Wildlife officials confirmed that a bear captured just three miles from Stevensville in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley is indeed a grizzly.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) responded to ongoing reports of a bear causing damage to a golf course. Biologists set up a trap fully expecting to capture a black bear and instead captured a young 249-pound grizzly bear.
Through the years, officials confirmed several grizzly bears in the Sapphire Mountains and in the northwest portion of the Bitterroot Valley, including the Lolo Creek drainage, and as far south as the Big Hole Valley. Grizzly bears in the Bitterroot remain relatively uncommon, compared to other parts of northwest Montana, but there are increasing reports in recent years.
Northwest Montana’s nearby Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) is the closest grizzly bear recovery zone with an established population of grizzlies.
“The NCDE is not far away, and grizzly bears are expanding in several directions from there, slowly recolonizing historic ranges,” said Jamie Jonkel, FWP Region 2 bear management specialist.
FWP relocated the grizzly to the lower Blackfoot Valley, on the southern edge of the NCDE, in a spot previously identified as a good relocation area for bears.
Go here to view the FWP news release.
(Photo source: Randy Hodgson)