Fall Update

Fall Update

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Frost, Melissa

THE FOOD NETWORK

Recent reports of numerous bears in yards and garbage cans in Big Sky neighborhoods reminds us that it’s fall and bears are actively out trying to make a living. Even in areas where good, natural food is available, unnatural attractants such as dog food, birdseed, fruit trees, or garbage cans tempt bears. As people encroach on bear habitat, bears may lose their natural wariness of us, but we can minimize human-bear interactions by taking a few simple precautions:

Store garbage where bears cannot gain access to it—either inside a secure garage or outbuilding or in a bear-proof container. Put your garbage can out on the morning of pick-up rather than the night before, and return it to a secure building as soon as possible after pick-up.

Store grills and smokers inside when possible. If you cannot store your grill inside, make sure to burn off any remaining food particles and scrub off grease after each use.

Ripe fruit attracts bears. Pick all ripe fruit as soon as possible and clear the ground of fallen fruit.

Store pet and livestock food inside a secure building or in a bear-proof container. Don’t leave leftover feed out overnight.

Bird feeders also attract bears. Feed birds only during winter and hang feeders out of reach of bears.

If a bear has gotten into your garbage, pet food, or bird feeder, remove the attractant immediately. Repeated use of a site by a bear is much harder to stop than a single instance. Bears that associate food with people and houses usually have to be trapped and relocated. An animal that keeps returning after relocation is considered a threat to public safety and will likely have to be killed. Do your part to reduce bear problems and help people and bears coexist in southwest Montana.

MONTANA BISON HUNT, TAKE TWO

On August 3, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) approved a bison hunt for the 2006-07 season. Last year, Montana held its first bison hunt in 15 years. The 90-day hunt went well and 40 bison were harvested. This year, the commission increased the number of permits to 140, which will be issued by special drawing. The application deadline will be in mid-September and the drawing will be in early October. For more information on this year’s bison hunt, visit fwp.mt.gov.

LIKE A BLOOD DRIVE, ONLY GAMIER

Each year, FWP collects blood samples from cow elk to detect the presence and frequency of brucellosis in southwest Montana’s elk populations. The easiest way to collect this kind of data is with the help of hunters. FWP asks hunters to voluntarily collect a blood sample from their freshly harvested cow elk using a kit and instructions we provide. A minimum number of samples is necessary for statistical certainty, and FWP is aiming to increase the number of hunter-harvest samples collected in the Madison and Emigrant Elk Management Units during the 2006 season. If you plan on hunting in areas north or west of Yellowstone National Park, look for kiosks with brucellosis blood-sampling kits at trailheads, U.S. Forest Service offices, sporting goods stores, hunter check stations, and the FWP headquarters in Bozeman. Although brucellosis affects only a small percentage of southwest Montana elk populations, we need your help to continue collecting reliable data.




Melissa Frost is the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 3 information and education manager.
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