Bears in Montana – Missoula Black Bear Edition
Bears in Montana have a certain essence to them– something that can captivate us. This is especially true when we see them outside of National Parks– even though they are still wild, you almost expect to see them when you visit the likes of Glacier National Park or Yellowstone National Park.
I’ve seen bears in Montana’s parks and in Montana’s total wilderness as well– however, the bear in the photos was spotted in Missoula’s city limits. While this may seem shocking and terrifying to some, this is a totally natural and a common occurrence. In the spring and fall, black bears make themselves apparent in Missoula’s city limits. However, there is little evidence of them– except for the chewed apple cores on the ground, sporadic berry-filled droppings and if you aren’t careful… your garbage may be open and spewed across your lawn.
That tends to be the extent of their damage though, some bite marks on a trash can or some scrapes on a door can also occur. That usually indicates that you left some mighty fine smelling scraps laying around. Even bird feed and seeders can attract bears. Remember– the greatest part of Montana is that we can coincide with our surroundings and are able to experience things that many other states cannot when it comes to nature. It may be your property, but don’t do anything to entice these bears onto it– take responsibility. The last thing we want is for the FWP to come and haul a bear away or terminate it because we were too lazy to put our trash in a bear-proof container. All it takes is for one person to complain.
Black bears in Montana tend to mind their own business. They seem to be like the city deer– they will notice you’re around but they respect the personal area bubble. If you approach either the deer or the black bears– they tend to take off. However, I don’t recommend trying to physically close the gap on either creature. I closed the gap between this black bear and myself with the help of a telephoto lens. Respect them and they will respect you in return. Especially remember to keep distance in mind if you see bear cubs around– this means that the mother is near and in protection mode (aka how any mother would act if a stranger approached their child mode). Officials advise that if you recreate in the areas that frequent bear sightings, then expect contact with bears. Hike in groups, make noise, and carry bear spray.
As long as we keep that mutual respect, we will be able to experience sights like the video below.
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