It’s that time of year when both black and grizzly bears enter hyperphagia, chowing down everything in sight in order to pack on plenty of fat for their winter sleep (FYI, bears don’t truly hibernate, just sleep deeply, and do occasionally wake up in the winter!). It’s been an amazing year for frequently spotting bears, after few sightings presented themselves in 2020. Without the pressure in the parks and backcountry due to COVID restrictions,
it seemed bears and other wildlife wandered back into their cozy habitats that were devoid of humans in 2020, which kept them from visiting more populated areas. 2021 has been a completely different story, however.
Pressure has returned to our wild areas, especially in the northwest corner of Montana, where Glacier Park and its bedroom communities were again inundated with people.
Humans’ presence in wild areas pushes wildlife out of their comfort zones and into places people reside, creating not only friction with humans, but a wonderful opportunity to see these creatures somewhat close up and personal. Although this really isn’t an ideal scenario for any involved, the sightings of wild things is an opportunity to appreciate from a distance and get a glimpse into their daily lives.
Teddy, Smokey and Yogi have been iconic ambassadors of bear-dom for years, and when you see a cute little black bear wandering around, it does make you smile and think how sweet these fluffy critters might be. As we all know, they’re not, so please be cautious, give them their distance, and always carry bear spray when out enjoying the woods. Make sure your kids and pups stay close to you, and that those pups are trained to
not chase any wildlife (which is illegal in Montana). There are many reports of dogs chasing a bear, only to double back when the bears charges them, leading the bear straight back to the dog’s owners. Obviously not a good situation! Also, realize that bears do not confine themselves to the woods, miles from town. They’re downtown, in your backyard, on the trails, at the lakes and rivers, and just about anywhere you go around here. If you doubt this, take a peek at the video below, which was taken at
my house, 1 mile from Whitefish City limits. This happened on the evening of November 6, and is a “double-feature” of young grizzlies meandering through to feast at a neighbor’s orchard. This was a busy night, as two foxes also came through later on,
using my driveway as a main thoroughfare.
Here is another video taken about two months ago, right off the deck of my house. I was eating dinner outside, music playing, and my pup was asleep next to me as I read a good book. I wouldn’t have noticed the bear, except Huck all of a sudden sat bolt upright and when I followed his gaze, it ran into a black bear standing in my yard. It all happened so fast that when I was safely off the deck and able to video, I thought he had been about a 100 feet away. He had been standing in front of a maple tree in my yard, and out of curiosity I measured the distance. In reality, he had been 36” away! Keep in mind that this bear walked up on us, even with the music playing and us in clear sight. It’s incredible to know you can have a couple hundred pound bear sneak up on you with barely a sound.
Here is the same bear a few days later, activating the Ring camera at my back door. I watched as he wandered off, and was thankful that I have bear spray in my bedroom, in case of a bear’s unwanted entry!
Enough of the warnings, just please be careful out there, and know these are wild animals. Don’t get close to get pictures of you and the bear in the same frame. Don’t think you can get close without risking your life. Keep your children and pets quiet, as not to cause a defensive reaction from the bears, and by all means, don’t run and trigger the bear's prey drive. I guarantee you won’t outrun him. I live on a ridge line that has long been a game trail, so I live with these guys daily, and neither my neighbors or I have had issues with them. We keep trash locked up in secure shelters, keep bird feeders out of reach, and fence around our gardens. When we encounter them, we talk quietly,
move slowly, and let them pass. Please do the same, so that these beautiful bruins aren’t euthanized for becoming nuisances or threats due to humans bad and reckless behavior with bear attractants. Several bears have been euthanized this year because of this, including a sow and her cubs, who had quietly minded her own business for 15+ years, until humans at several business didn’t secure their garbage. This is easy pickings for
bears, and once they learn to forage off human waste, their behavior escalates and many are killed as a means of control. Please don’t be part of that very real problem. We can coexist with these lovely creatures if we just use a little common sense.
Ending on a fun note, please enjoy these photos and my favorite bear song…backpacks from a bear’s point of view!
Owner/Broker Touchstone Real Estate