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It's bear season


April 13, 2023

Last year, it seemed as though there was some sort of bear conflict in the area just about every day. Fish, Wildlife and Parks staff was busy taking care of issues and trying to educate property owners how to reduce conflicts.

The majority of conflicts last year, as in most years, were due to trash or chickens not being secured properly. I got to know FWP bear expert Kim Annis pretty well last year, and it didn't take me long to learn her key phrase of making sure garbage is secured "inside a structure with four walls, a roof and a door."

More often than not, bear issues are more people issues, and the animals are not the problem. Living in Northwest Montana gives us unbelievable access to the outdoors and wildlife. That comes with responsibility, however, and we should each do our part to make sure wildlife stays wild and FWP isn't forced to euthanize animals who become habituated to human treats.

Bears don't know any better than to go to where they have found a food source, but people should know better than to make food easily accessible for animals.

Thompson Falls City Council is forming a committee to develop a Bear Smart Community plan. The program offers funding and other resources to help communities become Bear Smart and work to reduce conflicts. The most important part of the program, or any community effort for that matter, is to have investment from residents who are committed to doing their part.

Community members in Thompson Falls will gather after the city council meeting on Monday, May 8, to begin forming an assessment and identifying stakeholders.

Annis says bears can be active April to December, and some residents have already reported seeing bears out of hibernation. Now is the time to be bear smart as a community.

— Annie Wooden


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