An adult female grizzly bear was hit and killed on U.S. 93 recently.
According to Stacy Courville, Carnivore Management Specialist for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, between the night of Sept. 23 or the night of Sept. 24, the grizzly, estimated at 4-5 years of age, was hit on U.S. 93 north of the Ninepipes Reservoir.
It’s the first highway mortally of 2019 but the fourth known grizzly bear mortality on the Flathead Reservation.
Grizzly bear collisions with vehicles on U.S. 93 on the Flathead Reservation have been far fewer in 2019, compared to last year when six bears were lost. Those bears ranged from cubs-of-the-year to an adult female and male.
No vehicle was found disabled at the site and no accident report has been identified. The bear was found on the west side of the highway at mile marker 41. She was not marked, thus not previously known to the CSKT Wildlife Program.
“We know this individual did not have cubs with her, as she was not lactating nor had any other obvious sign of young,” Courville said.
Many of the fatal grizzly vehicle collisions have occurred in this yet-to-be reconstructed section of highway that runs through the state, federal, and tribally owned wildlife management areas associated with Ninepipes Reservoir.
At this time of year, mid-August through to late September or October, bears are in hyperphagia, when a bear feels the need to eat and drink continuously and that need may include feeding up to 24 hours a day. This is how the bear prepares for hibernation, and is true for both grizzly and black bears. They are searching widely for food.
Tribal officials ask drivers to be extra vigilant when driving at night. Also consider bringing in your bird feeders and always make sure your garbage is secure.
For more information, contact Stacy Courville, Carnivore Management Specialist for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, at (406) 883-2888.