Bird Watching

Black bear spotted in Upper Miller Creek neighborhood

This reporter and his wife were driving up St. Francis Drive and heading towards the intersection of St. Thomas Drive in the Upper Miller Creek area around 3:00 p.m. Sunday when we spotted a small black bear crossing the road and into a large lot belonging to one of our neighbors.

As we pulled off the road and called 9-1-1, the bear ran as fast as he could across the large lawn.

A large family group with a good-sized dog also spotted the bear, which ran from the yard until it was out of sight.

There are many houses in the area and many have large gardens and apple trees.

Since the bear was not acting threatening and was obviously trying to get away from people in the area as quickly as possible, 9-1-1 advised us to report to Missoula Bears dot org, this that we did.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear specialist Jamie Jonkel, who recently spoke to KGVO News about such encounters, the bears are having a hard time finding enough food to prepare for their winter hibernation.

Jonkel took a very serious tone when discussing the bear problem in western Montana at this time, as the entire region was experiencing a “food shortage”.

“Right now we do have an ongoing food shortage,” he said. “We have black bears and grizzly bears all over region two, even in the Kalispell and Bozeman area. As a result, we have a lot of bears behaving a bit uncharacteristically. Either they totally ignore us or they try to get our apples. They try to get our hawthorn berries in the garden and if you have garbage there they will try to get your garbage.

Jonkel said the bears in particular were desperately hungry as they prepared for hibernation.

“Now this year, it’s so important from now on that everyone has all their attractions locked up, but they also have to be a little patient because the bears are desperate,” he said. “So if you have a crabapple tree and you live near a mountain or a stream, you’re going to have bears in your yard. It’s been a bad year for bears. So call us with information, but also be patient and realize that they are hurting and doing things a little differently this year.

If you see a bear in a residential area, report it to Missoula Bears dot org, or if the bear or any predator is acting threatening, call 9-1-1.

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