Bears went through a pet door, screen windows and doors to rummage through people’s homes in search of food, Montana officials said.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said two bears were actively breaking into homes in a Missoula neighborhood over the past six weeks.
“This neighborhood sits on the northeast edge of town, adjacent to a lot of open lands and good wildlife habitat,” Vivaca Crowser, information and education program manager, told McClatchy News in an email. “The bears were entering homes at night, going in through screen windows or doors, and in one case a pet door.”
Once the bears were inside the home, they started tearing through the homes in search of food.
Once a bear gets a food reward from inside a home or garage, however, officials said it’s likely they’ll continue breaking in.
“It becomes a human safety concern and is a habit that is almost impossible to break,” Crowser said. “So, we set traps and, unfortunately, have to euthanize bears in these situations.”
The first bear was caught sometime around Aug. 16, Crowser said. On Thursday, Aug. 25, the second bear was caught and euthanized.
Bears can’t get enough food before the winter, and they’re searching in unusual places for it. They’re entering hyperphagia, a period before hibernation when they need to eat 20,000 calories or more each day.
Trying to devour that many calories in a day has them scouring barbecue grills, picnic tables and even people’s homes.
Officials said you can help minimize your chances of attracting a bear by following these tips:
- Never feed wildlife: It brings animals in conflict with people and attracts them into homes and neighborhoods.
- Store all garbage in bear-resistant containers or bear boxes.
- Never leave groceries, animal feed or garbage in cars, campsites or tents.
- Lock your car and close all the windows. Anything with an odor can attract a bear.
- Keep barbecues clean and stored away when they’re not in use.
- Keep doors and windows locked in your home when it’s empty.
- Use electric fences on gardens, fruit trees and compost piles.
- Store food, drinks and toiletries in bear-resistance containers while camping.
- Give wildlife space.