Seeley Swan Pathfinder
July 30, 1998
by Bill Koppen
Seeley Lake Game Warden
As the Seeley Lake Game Warden, I feel the bear/garbage issue must be clarified. People must secure garbage out of the reach of the bears. In other words: garbage must be stored in garages with doors closed at night, or in a bear proof area or container. Garbage cans are not bear proof. Garbage stored in trucks and trailers is not bear proof. Bears also like humming bird feeder water and bird seed. The feeders should be brought indoors at night if they are accessible to a bear. I realize it is inconvenient at times, but the bears are worth the extra time and effort it takes to live in bear country, so please clean things up.
People come to Seeley Lake to see the beautiful lakes, mountains, and wildlife. Bears are not difficult to live with, but will be the losers with the garbage problem Seeley Lake is experiencing.
SOME BEAR FACTS:
1. Bears do not forget a source of food.
2. Bears have powerful noses and can smell just about anything edible.
3. Bears like an easy source of food; garbage all over town is an easy source of food.
4. Bears will come back to a found food source (garbage, feeders, dog food, cat food, etc.) for 10-15 days, even if nothing is found after the initial food find. THEY REMEMBER!
5. Bears travel a route and will hit places where food is found. If your neighbor has garbage out, you can expect a visit.
6. Bears are cute and fun to watch, but can get very aggressive with a food source and cubs.
7. Several people in Seeley Lake leave garbage out intentionally to attract bears onto their property; not a wise thing to do.
8. As the Game Warden, I have received over 150 calls and messages concerning bear problems. Half of these calls are about bears in garbage or eating dog food, etc.
9. The bears need the help of the Seeley Lake residents and tourists! The garbage must be cleaned up, or the bears will lose this battle.
10. There are six different black bears currently roaming the area.
11. Grizzly bears will be next...then what?
If a bear is acting aggressively toward people and chasing people, I need to be advised of the situation. If a bear is breaking into garages or houses, please let me know. These bears will be trapped or darted.
I can trap the problem bears but only transport them 50 miles to the high country. If I transport a bear 75 miles or more, the bear travels into other warden district towns and I pass the problem on; not an option. Bears roam over 100 miles in three to four days if on a mission. Returning to an easy food source, such as garbage, is a worthwhile mission to a bear. Three days after being relocated, the trouble makers are back in town.
The relocated bears return to Seeley Lake and are much smarter the next time. After a bear is trapped, it becomes trap weary or trap shy. My recourse as Game Warden is to try and trap the bear again (not likely), tranquilize and relocate the bear, or destroy the animal. This is not a favorable option, but it may be a child or an adult who is injured by an educated, trap shy bear.
In conclusion, please clean up the garbage Seeley Lake, and let's give the bears a chance. These are not problem bears yet! WHAT WE HAVE IS A GARBAGE PROBLEM!