Hunting Grizzlies (copy)

In this 2013 photo, a grizzly bear cub searches for fallen fruit beneath an apple tree a few miles from the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Montana wildlife officials have moved a male grizzly bear caught at a campground near Hebgen Lake last week to a wildlife facility in West Yellowstone.

The bear, a 5- to 6-year old male, was caught at Rainbow Point Campground on Friday after it had gotten into human food sources at a house and at the campground, according to a release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

It was taken to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center on Monday.

It’s not often that grizzly bears captured by game wardens end up going to a place like the discovery center. Often state officials either release the bear to the wild again or kill it.

In this instance, there happened to be space at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Morgan Jacobsen, an FWP spokesman, said other circumstances were right, too, with the bear not being aggressive toward people.

“This is one rare instance where the conditions were right in terms of the age and condition of the bear,” Jacobsen said.

John Heine, executive director of the center, said the center had space opened because it had to euthanize a 38-year-old female bear a couple weeks ago. He also said the bear seemed to have a personality that would work well there, and, because it was younger, it might adjust well to captivity.

“It was just a good fit for us so we went ahead and offered it a home,” Heine said.

The addition brings the total number of bears there to eight.

The bear first got into trouble at an unsecured garbage can at a house near West Yellowstone. FWP’s release said the bear got into the garbage can on Wednesday. After that, it found its way to the Rainbow Point Campground, which is on the south side of the Grayling Arm of Hebgen Lake.

It hit the campground more than once, getting into a cooler and into food and trash in the back of a truck. The bear also knocked down a tent and climbed on a car with people inside of it.

FWP’s release says officials tried to chase the bear away from the area but failed.

Forest Service officials closed the Rainbow Point Campground to people on Friday. Later that day, FWP officials captured the bear in a culvert trap.

It went to the discovery center on Monday. It’s not the youngest bear there — two yearlings have it beat — but it’s on the younger end of the spectrum. The facility also has a 9-year-old, and 11-year-old and three bears 22 or older.

Heine said it will be integrated with the yearlings and will take part in the center’s testing program for bear-resistant products, meaning it will get to keep trying to break into coolers, dumpsters and other stuff.

The program helps improve those products, which in turn keep bears in the wild by ensuring they don’t get used to eating human food. Heine said having that bear test the gear will let it “give back a little to its wild counterparts.”

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.