Get your bear spray. Montana’s grizzly bears are expanding into new territory and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has proof after a 3-year Old grizzly was caught (pictured) in a culvert trap a few weeks ago. FWP region 1 spokesman Dillon Tabish explains.

“We had received reports from residents in the Lake McGregor, Little Bitterroot Lake area west of Kalispell and they had seen this bear moving around,” Tabish said. “It caught the residents by surprise and it kind of caught us by surprise to see grizzlies in this area because this is a new zone where we are not used to seeing grizzly bears.”

The bear was not within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem which stretches from Glacier National Park, down through the Bob Marshall and into the Whitefish and Swan Ranges, but not west of the Flathead Valley. Tabish says the bear wasn’t part of the other established ecosystem either.

"There is another ecosystem up by Libby and Troy called the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem and that is a very small grizzly bear population,” Tabish said. “There are barely 50 grizzly bears in that area, but between there and here, it has kind of been a no-man’s land for grizzly bears until now. This grizzly bear that we captured in late April was interestingly between those two recovery areas.”

Tabish says FWP doesn’t know how the grizzly made it to the Little Bitterroot lake area, or which ecosystem it came from originally.  They relocated it to the Cabinet-Yakk range because it was getting into garbage and chicken feed. This time the bear is wearing a GPS collar. Tabish says the expansion is evidence that the Endangered Species Act has worked.

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