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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Living with bears is slow learning process

WILDLIFE -- Most savvy campers have heard about the Yosemite black bears that had become adept at opening windows and even trunks like pop-top lids to get to food left inside parked vehicles.  

Montana bears are becoming similarly sophisticated burglars.

At a camping resort near Seeley Lake last weekend, a black bear had been reported in the area. Sure enough. We all though we were being careful, but the bear broke into a friend's Subaru, in which he'd stored some food for protection overnight. 

The thief had no problem breaking out the window and having its way inside, leaving perfect muddy black bear prints on seats.  The campground, incidentally, was very clean with bear-proof garbage containers.

Turns out the bear was a repeat offender in the inhabited valley north of Missoula and therefore marked for capture and relocation in hopes that it would soon hibernate as a wild bear far from people.

But the night state Fish, Wildlife and parks staffers set the culvert trap, the bear didn't show at the campground despite the reeking smorgasbord of ripe goodies used for bait.

Turns out the bear had a better offer.

We were told the ice cream store in the town of Seeley Lake a couple miles away was cleaning out for the season and had put containers of leftover ice cream outside in the unprotected garbage. 

The bear had a party.

The bear very likely is doomed.

We're told that this town and many other places in bear country have poor habits in terms of living with bears and preventing bears from being lured into close proximity to people, property and pets.

No truer words have been coined in this respect: A fed bear is a dead bear.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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