Early September means a decrease in hungry bugs but an increase in hungry bears.
The Bozeman Police Department has recently received at least one or two reports per night of bears climbing trees and upending trashcans within city limits.
That’s likely to continue until mid-October when the bears start settling down for the winter, said Andrea Jones of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
“They do this pretty much every fall when they’re trying to fatten up before heading to their dens,” Jones said. “It’s pretty typical that we get bears in the northeast and southeast corners of town.”
When a bear sighting is reported, dispatchers notify FWP for bear safety and police for public safety, said dispatch director Kerry O’Connell.
Most of the calls have been from the south side of town, including Willson, Tracy and Black avenues. A handful of callers reported bears in the trees near South Third and Grand avenues.
Most reports come between midnight and 2 a.m., although there have been a few afternoon sightings of bears eating garbage or climbing fruit trees.
The bears are constantly on the move. Lt. Dave McManis said nine times out of 10, police can’t find the bears by the time they arrive on the scene. If bears are still present, officers usually just watch to ensure that the bears move on and that people stay back.
“They’re just moving through like they do every year,” McManis said.
Jones said biologists are tracking the bears, and one may be responsible for most of the calls.
“We have a handful staying on the perimeter, but one keeps popping up, hanging out in town,” Jones said.
One or two callers thought their invaders were grizzly bears, but all are black bears, Jones said. Their hair can sun-bleach, changing from black to brown.
No bears have been aggressive, Jones said. If one starts acting bold – huffing, posturing, coming out more during the day – biologists will consider taking action.
Jones said officials would rather not trap a bear in town. All the readily available food in a town makes it difficult to attract bears, and a trapping operation can be dangerous for bears and people nearby.
“In most cases, they’ll leave on their own.” Jones said. “Luckily, the residents of Bozeman are understanding of bear behavior.”
Residents wanting to avoid bear visits should cover their garbage or store it indoors. Pick up fallen fruit and don’t leave pet food or bird food outdoors.
For more information on avoiding human-bear conflicts, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition is offering a presentation by Canadian biologist Jay Honeyman on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Weaver Room of the Emerson Cultural Center.
Honeyman will overview the grizzly bear work being carried out in Alberta.
For more information, call 586-1593.
Laura Lundquist can be reached at 582-2638 or email@example.com.