Time to start thinking about bear conflicts

Justine Valieres
Justine Valieres, Wildlife Conflict Specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (Region 1)

A note posted to Facebook this morning from our new Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Conflict Management Specialist, Justine Vallieres . . .

Hey North Forkers! I just wanted to pop in and do a quick introduction of myself. As most of you know, Tim Manley retired from FWP after 37 years of grizzly bear management. I was lucky enough to be his technician these last 4 years so I learned from the best! I applied this winter for the Wildlife Conflict Management Specialist position and was offered the position and started in March. So I will now be covering the North Fork. So if you have any mountain lion, black bear or grizzly bear conflicts please give me a call. My number is Tim’s old work cell which is 406-250-1265.

On another note, there have been a handful of reports from the North Fork area recently of grizzly sightings, some in yards. Please remember that if you do have a bear in your yard (black or grizz), please make them leave. This is so crucial that they learn that being around people and homes is not OK or safe. I know we all enjoy viewing wildlife, but it’s really important to remember that the more they hang around homes, the more comfortable they get, which can lead to habituation. We don’t want to give them the opportunity to snoop around and get into stuff, but we also do not want to create habituated bears where they are no longer wary of people. You personally may be tolerant of a bear in your yard, but other people may not be so tolerant, which could ultimately end up in the bear being hurt or killed.

So if you have bears in your yard, from a safe place, yell at them in a deep tone and tell them to move along. The human voice is the best deterrent, as we are “danger” to them. Bang pots and pans, set off car alarms, use air horns etc. Please refrain from shooting as we want to avoid any potential accidents and bears get used to hearing gunshots. If you have continuously tried to make a bear leave and it shows no interest in doing so please give me a call.

Thank you for helping keep the North Fork and its wildlife wild! I look forward to meeting many of you and seeing some familiar faces this season!