Bad news for Western Montana Bears

Randy11

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I'm sure that most of you have seen (likely many) articles this summer and fall on bears in Western MT being where they shouldn't be. The combination of a very early spring, and a horrible mountain drought that caused almost all berry crops to fail has forced the bears into survival mode, pushing them into the valley floors in search of fruit, chicken coops, and garbage bins. It's bad news for this fall, but it's also bad news for the bear population in the near future.

Jamie Jonkel (FWP bear specialist) has been quoted in the paper almost daily this fall, and has touched on the ramifications this year could have on the bear population for the foreseeable future. The Independent had a great article on it here-

http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/bearing-down/Content?oid=2495268

Here's a couple more articles from the Missoulian-

http://missoulian.com/news/local/hu...cle_e362eefe-cb20-51d3-8037-3ea0854dd60a.html

http://missoulian.com/lifestyles/re...cle_098ba15d-a9cf-5ac9-93b3-175cf5d82343.html

It's a bum deal all the way around. There's going to be a huge mortality on bears this fall for obvious reasons, ongoing mortality from bears learning these food sources, and bears dying in dens this winter due to going in in such poor condition.

No doubt they'll bounce back eventually, but I will not be surprised if this year effects bear populations for the next 5-10 years. Similar situation in my eyes to the pronghorn die off in NE Montana in 2011.

Western Montana bear hunting has gotten a lot of attention on this board the last couple years, so thought this was worth posting.

The silver lining I guess, is that the elk calf recruitment should get a shot in the arm.
 

Randy11

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Glad we didn't try to stuff an additional 25 grizzlies into the Selway this year.;)
I think I would have won the beer bet.:D

Nailed it. Having a historically poor berry crop is perfect grounds for never expanding bear populations.

The sheep died off on the Saint Regis cut-off this year, therefore we shouldn't relocate more bighorns in Western Montana. :rolleyes:
 
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Nameless Range

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Quite a bummer. I've seen more bears along the I-15 Corridor between Boulder and Helena this year than any year I can remember. 2 of them done and dusted on the side of the interstate.
 

Nunyacreek

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Dec 13, 2013
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unfortunate but not worrisome

This is unfortunate for individual bears, but it certainly doesn't seem cataclysmic. I just read the articles and saw no evidence whatsoever that bear populations are likely to be affected. For one thing it's hard to judge the impact of mortality without citing some present population data so that one can judge relative numbers.
The feeling I got is that certain Bears will now be habituated so that when food shortages occur 3 or 4 years from now we may have a crop of "pending" problem bears. No one wants this. However, my gut reaction (unscientific) is that there are VERY healthy bear populations in Montana and this is totally insignificant, unless you happen to be either bear or driver in a collision.
 

LCH

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Hope they don't take a hit. I've had enough trouble finding bears the last couple years as it is.
 

Gerald Martin

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The one my daughter shot was fat, but had nothing in his stomach or gut. The biologist that checked it in said most of the bears he checked have been shot in peoples back yards.
 

Griztrax

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Dec 9, 2013
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Helena, MT
The opening of Montana's general rifle season will provide a welcome food source for bears in the form of gut piles and wounded animals that are not recovered. A reminder to everyone in Western Montana to stay alert when gutting your kill and packing meat.
 

shrapnel

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Aug 27, 2015
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I've lived in Montana my entire life and can't remember when there wasn't a drought or too much precipitation. I don't recall ever hearing someone say "isn't this weather normal?" As far as bears and berries, I don't buy that either. The amount of berries in a bear's diet won't make or break his winter.

Every year we have bears in town and in early fall they are more active and mobile. There are so many variables in a bear's life, I question some of how the experts interpret their own data. After eating rotted carcasses and chewing up logs with ants in them, sleeping in a cave all winter and coming out in the spring with a plug in their intestines, it is for certain, whenever you kill a bear, you are doing him a favor...
 

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