This past week's episode of "Frontier Justice" (National Geographic Channel) Bozeman PD officers were dispatched to the home of a male homeowner who neighbors had complained was feeding bears. The officers showed up and asked the man whether he was feeding bears or not. The man became defensive and angrily stated that he fed birds and some of the bird seed had dropped onto the ground below the feeder, and that he could not be expected to get down and pick up every little fallen seed and that the bears were feeding on the seed.
Yes, if you feed birds during the spring, summer and fall months in this area and in most areas of Montana you are feeding bears, which is against the law. The problem with this ignorant individual is, he feeds the birds and bears and then other problems occur. The bears become habituated and start breaking into houses, sheds and causing other property damage. It could even cost someone their life under the right circumstances. In most cases what usually occurs is; the individual feeding the birds and bears calls in a complaint to remove the "problem" bear - in effect, killing it - and continues to fill the bird feeders, attracting more bears.
Bird feeders are the number one cause of human-bear conflict in Montana. The amount of resources required - police officers, fish and game agents, insurance companies - your tax dollars is staggering. Feeding birds should be outlawed between April 1, when bears begin showing up out of hibernation, and Thanksgiving weekend, when most bears have gone back into hibernation. The bear management office at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also needs to stop being less reactive and start being more proactive, and lawmakers need to step up to the plate and help them.