Two sub-adult male grizzly bears were euthanized by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Monday morning after livestock depredation events during the weekend west of Stanford.
The two bears were siblings and had been seen south of the Missouri River, south east of Great Falls several times during the past few weeks. The bears killed four calves late Friday night or early Saturday morning. This was the first time the two bears had killed livestock.
When the depredation was reported, FWP and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services responded in a joint effort to capture the bears. One bear was caught in a snare. The other bear was darted in the open field. Both were handed over to FWP, who then proposed euthanizing the bears to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is the federal agency with oversight responsibilities for grizzly bears.
The two bears are part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population, which is currently still listed on the Endangered Species List, though populations in the NCDE have surpassed recovery goals set by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Grizzly bears in the NCDE have been moving out from the Rocky Mountain Front and onto the plains west of Great Falls for the last few years, with some bears pushing further east each year. The two males killed Monday mark the farthest grizzly bears have been seen east of the Rocky Mountain Front in more than a century.
The bears were 2.5 years-old and weighed a little less than 300 pounds. As the public reported sightings of the bears over the past few weeks, FWP biologists and wardens visited with landowners and ranchers inquiring about conflicts and advising people on keeping attractants safely put away.
Last Thursday about 14 miles west of where the bears killed the four calves, FWP biologists set traps trying to capture the bears. The effort was unsuccessful as the two grizzlies pushed further east.