Carelessness and two grizzly bears dead near Ronan, MT

Unprotected chicken coops becoming a source of  bears deaths on Flathead Reservation-

Two grizzlies were shot dead last weekend near the base of the bear-heavy Mission Mountains in NW Montana.

An elk antler gatherer stumbled into a griz on the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife area and shot the bear. Not far away on the Flathead Indian Reservation a grizzly bear was shot near a chicken coop. Raising chickens in unprotected pens and sheds is a rapidly growing economic activity on the reservation.

These dead bears were number 3 and 4 for the year in general area.

Grizzlies killed on Flathead Reservation, at Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area. By Rob Chaney and Vince Devlin of the Missoulian





  1. Mike Avatar

    Sad. No surprise that someone in the field constantly staring at the ground “stumbled” onto a grizzly. Wasn’t there anoher case of antler hunters doing the same thing in Wyoming last year?

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    People looking for antlers on elk winter range in the springtime run into grizzlies about every other year, it seems to me.

  3. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Wow 300 people in the area . . I wonder if the bear felt trapped, cornered with no escape for her and her cubs. I wonder what “coming after him” entailed. News articles are so lacking in detail. Frustrating.

    1. Savebears Avatar

      Linda, so true, which is why, for the most part, we should take the media reports with a grain of sand..

      1. Savebears Avatar

        But also take into account this area is a very large area and the 300 people were not standing shoulder to shoulder..

  4. Mtn Mama Avatar
    Mtn Mama

    This week is Bear Awareness week. Maybe someone needs to do some teaching on the reservations about building “unwelcome” mats or running electric fence around their coops & hives.

  5. Nancy Avatar

    I remember a few years ago taking a swing by opening day at Sun River:

    Vehicles were backed up for a couple of miles atleast. My friend and I were not taking part in the “festivities” but did drive to the front of the line, which got us a lot of angry stares! It reminded me of the news coverage of Black Friday after Thanksgiving, in some of the big cities.

    I’ve heard some nasty stories about opening day.

  6. Salle Avatar

    Okay, I have a problem with this issue, actually two issues.

    First, the “horn hunters” were in a wildlife refuge and the shot the bear? So I wonder what the actual definition of “refuge” would be in this case, especially when this is, in my understanding, a place of protection for wildlife… or just the wildlife that is convenient at any given moment and this is determined by each individual who enters the refuge? These folks were taking something from the refuge for profit, so what’s wrong with this picture?

    Second, raising chickens and keeping bees for pollination of crops and honey production are also, and probably, a main food/cash source that is likely barely affordable for those living on the rez. Yes, there should be the ability and incentive to protect these bear “magnets” but I would guess that those who have these food sources on their property may not have the funds for materials for such protective devices. Ever been to a rez? Ever seen the level of poverty that plagues these places, thanks to our white superiority practices? I am all for teaching the bear safety practices but I also think that there should be a way for the residents of the rez to have access to the materials and tools. When you have people raising chickens and bees for subsistence, they most likely don’t have the means to make better shelters for these food sources. Electric fencing isn’t cheap, nor is wood/metal for fences and better chicken coops. I’ll bet these folks would gladly and willingly build better shelter/fencing if they had the means to do so.

    So many times the dominant society members who live in developed communities seem to forget or just have no clue about what life on the rez is like for most Native Americans. They were/are basically open housing concentration camps with little cash and resources to allow the “rezidents” to advance in the economic realm of the general populace as it is in the developed communities. It’s nothing like what you see every day, for the average American, out of sight out of mind and not in the general discussion period. Mostly, when there is a problem on a rez that makes the whitepeople’s news the response from the whitepeople is; why don’t they just…? Which is ridiculous given the obstacles we constantly place before them and do everything imaginable to thwart their efforts to be self sustaining.

    I’m just sayin’…

    1. Chris Harbin Avatar
      Chris Harbin

      Unfotunately, I believe most NWR’s allow in-season hunting so the term “refuge” is problematic. Given that the grizz is still an endangered species (??) it is very sad.

    2. Ryan Avatar


      So what you are saying is that the indians are too dumb to go to school and better their lives? I know a lot of native americans, the ones that have worked hard do great and suffer not, where as the res rats are no different than any other inner city poor area group. Most just live off the system and complain about the injustices done to their ancestors.

      In this day in age, your life is what you make of it. The opportunities for self advancement are limitless for those that apply themselves.

  7. Phil Avatar

    Having two cubs in an area with the 300 people would definately stress out the sow and go into defense mode of her cubs. Grizzly bears just don’t attack for no reason, so I believe there that she was protecting her cubs and/or there is more to the story then what was printed in the article.

    Unprotected chicken? Great responsibility by the landowner there. And, we tend to blame the bears and other predators for acting naturally and not those who are irresponsible.

  8. Lindsay Avatar

    I just wrote a letter to the editor of the Missoulian about this very topic and have recently been hounded by a variety of hate mail! First a disclaimer: I was born and raised on ‘the rez’ Salle….And please just take a moment before calling it that. Have you even been to the FIR? We are one of the most resourceful and stable communities among a handful of Indian Reservations in Montana, though the tension between races always exists, as it does in many societies.

    This issue involving the unnecessary deaths of grizzly bears is serious, but above all, curable. Landowners can protect their livestock through economical methods of electric wires, and hunters can venture into the wilderness with bear spray…These are too forms of preparation I have found very useful in Montana, and believe me, I am straddling the poverty line!

    So before anyone goes knocking the ‘Rez,’ maybe pay a visit and talk to us one on one. I’m sure more than one Native American would be grateful to tell his/her side of the story.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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