Bears coming out of hibernation early near Missoula - News, Sports and Weather

Bears coming out of hibernation early near Missoula

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This week, Missoula drivers spotted a bear out of hibernation and chowing down on roadkill on the side of Interstate 90 outside Missoula.

Fish Wildlife and Parks bear biologist Jamie Jonkel says this particular subadult bear looks healthy and probably just picked a bad denning site this winter. A late-winter melt can flood a bear's den, waking them up and sending them out to look for food.

Jonkel says February is early but not unheard of, and he thinks this bear has a good shot at surviving despite his early spring.

"He's not starving. Like, once in a while we'll see a bear that's been terribly injured or is just so emaciated, especially yearlings that have lost their mother that are just a rack of bones," he says. "Those are the ones that are probably not going to make it and he did not look like one of those bears. He was not injured and looked healthy."

Jonkel says male bears emerge from hiberation first, usually at the end of March, and females and cubs are expected about a month later. In April, Jonkel says it's important to be bear aware nad store dog food, bird food and trash on your property safely out of bears' reach.

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