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FWP will teach safety during Bear Aware Month in Montana

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Posted at 1:16 PM, Sep 07, 2023

It's Bear Aware Month in Montana. Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has some workshops set up to keep people safe at home and outdoors.

The first chance to get some of the information will be at the FWP Region 5 office at Lake Elmo State Park on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In July, a grizzly bear fatally attacked 48-year-old Amy Adamson of Kansas while she was running on a trail in West Yellowstone.

On Saturday morning, the grizzly bear broke into someone's home to steal food.

"The adult bear was shot with authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because of the immediate danger that was posed by the bear's food-conditioned behavior," said Morgan Jacobsen, FWP information and education manager in Bozeman.

The 10-year-old female grizzly was captured in 2017 for research and has been linked to another attack that injured a person in Idaho, according to FWP.

The grizzly's 46-pound cub will stay at FWP's rehabilitation center in Helena until a zoo home is found.

Incidents such as these were part of the motivation for Gov. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., to proclaim September, Bear Aware Month.

Education will help with both grizzly and black bears.

FWP advises carrying bear spray when hiking in bear country, which actually works best at about 30 feet away.

"This stuff is pretty similar to pepper spray so it affects a bears' breathing abilities, their eyesight, their smell," said Chrissy Webb, FWP communication and education manager in Billings.

Webb will use what she calls an inert bear spray and let people practice with it at the bear-aware events.

She advises keeping the bear spray in a good spot where you can easily find it.

"Having it in an accessible location and then I also like to say a consistent location," Webb said. "So you know every time I go hiking, it's right here on my waistband."

Webb warns about food-conditioned grizzly and black bears, so she says to not leave potential food out on your property.

"They're really looking for anything they can eat at this point," Webb said. "So that's really where making sure your attractants are stored securely on your property is really important because bears are looking for about anything they can eat this time of year to prepare for hibernation."

She also says black bears have been seen in Lockwood and close to Billings.

She says grizzlies normally stay higher and have been seen in more places around the state.

"A good reminder of to folks is that you can potentially see a grizzly bear really anywhere west of where we are here in Billings," Webb said.

And she says to stay alert and look for the possibility of bears in the area.

"So it's making sure folks are aware of their surroundings and aware of what might be in the area to make sure they stay safe," Webb said. "And make sure these awesome wild animals we have in this state can stay wild."