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Three Grizzly Bears Relocated

Three grizzly bears have been relocated to new homes after suspected trouble with livestock in the Ovando area. Three calves have been killed recently in the Ovando vicinity and according to Mack Long, regional supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Missoula, "We can't be sure which of the three or four or five bears in the area, if any of them, may have been involved. So to hopefully avoid further problems, the bears we could catch were relocated."

The problem with livestock losses began with two calves killed in early April and the U.S. Wildlife Services set snares for the bear. After ten days, nothing was captured and the snares were removed. The next day another calf was killed. A large black bear was captured by FWP game wardens and relocated and snares were set by a federal trapper for four grizzly bears that had been seen in the area. On Saturday, May 1, an adult female was caught and her yearling female cub was darted with a tranquilizer and captured. In an effort to catch any other cub, snares were again set. On Sunday, a large male grizzly was snared. The male was transported by FWP personnel in Kalispell to be relocated in northwest Montana. According to John Fraley, information officer for FWP in Kalispell, the male, which was missing its right eye from an old injury, was successfully released Tuesday in the Firefighter Mountain area near Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Since there may be one more cub that was not caught, trapping efforts continued through Monday, but were not productive. Long said that "because we don't know if these were the responsible bears, the possibility of another cub, and because productive female grizzlies are so important to the population we decided to relocate these two to the nearby Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area (BCWMA)." The BCWMA is northeast of Clearwater Junction, 30 miles from Missoula and is managed by FWP. The female was fitted with a radio collar and will be tracked to monitor her movements. Her captured cub was successfully released with her Monday afternoon. According to Long, "this is an old female and she has probably lived in the general area for years without getting in trouble in the past. If this is the case, we hope she and her offspring will continue to stay out of trouble." He added that if there is another cub, there is a "good possibility that they will get back together."

Long reminds people to be responsible in bear country by keeping all garbage and pet food inside a building, not putting food scraps in compost piles and taking down bird feeders if bears are in the area. Long said "together we can all work to help bears stay out of trouble."

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