Beloved black bears killed in Red Lodge, locals want change - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Beloved black bears killed in Red Lodge, locals want change

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Cropped Photo: Mark Watson / Flickr  / MGN Cropped Photo: Mark Watson / Flickr / MGN
RED LODGE, Mont. -
The community of Red Lodge is mourning the loss of a black bear sow and her cub after they were hit on Highway 212 Friday night. 
Colleen Kilbane said, "the sow and cub, they've been beloved in the community for quite some time. Just last week she was on my friend's golf cart on the golf course."
The sow and cub brought community members together to talk about the importance of Montana's wildlife and what could be done to protect wildlife and people. 
Just over 2,000 people live in Red Lodge, it's estimated that just over 13,000 black bears live in Montana, some making Red Lodge their home too. 
Two of those bears were the sow and cub hit Friday. 
Kilbane said she thinks, "we all live here because we respect wildlife, we respect nature, the environment, and it's [wildlife] just a little added bonus."
Kilbane said she's photographed the sow for a few years and was thrilled to see her cub last year so the loss was heartbreaking. 
The community said these bears come down from the wooded area behind Beartooth Billings Clinic and cross Highway 212 to get to Rock Creek. 
Stephen Viale lives off Two Mile Bridge Road and said, "the bears come through, the deer come through, we get elk, we even get turkeys walking through here."
Viale continued, "When I heard and found out that the momma and the cub had been killed it pained me. 
John Potter said in his native language there isn't a word for animal it translates to relatives and these bears are our family. 
"Our animals, they need our respect and consideration," Potter said, "If we love them as much as we say that we do in order to live here to be among them we need to respect them in their home."
The people of Red Lodge said they don't want to villainize the person that hit these black bears they just want to see some change. 
Potter said, "the first step in doing that is slowing down, relaxing, take it easy, listen, out your needs aside for a little bit and think about the whole."
The residents of Red Lodge said the speed limit of 70 miles per hour is something they believe could be lowered to help prevent wildlife accidents. 
Kilbane said, "We have a lot of people driving in and out that really don't know the nuances of  that stretch of road and I know a lot of local people don't go 70 up until mile marker 73. until the vegetation opens up and you can really see what's approaching from the sides."
For the speed limit to be lowered the Montana Department of Transportation needs to complete a speed study which luckily for residents of Red Lodge has already been completed. 
Carbon County Commissioner for District 3, Red Lodge, said, "there appears to be some pretty legitimate reasons for a reduction and extending a reduced speed zone further north coming out of Red Lodge."
Some of those reasons being the animals but also the community growth with the hospital and vet clinic in that area.
Bullock said lowering the speed or adding wildlife signs are all things that will be discussed. 
He believes, "the biggest thing is getting folks maybe slowed down if that's something that we're approached with and gets enough support from the community then I think it's more than appropriate."
A roundabout is also in the works for the Two Mile Bridge Road and Highway 212 area that residents are hoping will help slow people down along the wildlife corridor. 

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