One grizzly killed by train; two others die of natural causes

November 16, 2018

A male grizzly bear cub died last week after a collision with a BNSF Railway train on the tracks near Columbia Falls.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported Friday that the railroad reported hitting a bear on Nov. 8 near North Hilltop Road. The agency said it investigated the scene and found no evidence of attractants or signs that other bears had been involved.

The agency also reported Friday that two other grizzlies have died in the region during the past month and that both deaths appeared to be from natural causes.

In both cases, the bears were wearing GPS radio collars that alerted the state agency that the animals likely were dead.

In one of those cases, an adult female grizzly was found dead near Sullivan Creek southwest of Hungry Horse Reservoir.

A separate adult female grizzly bear was found dead near Wildcat Creek west of Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Estimates suggest the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem is home to more than 1,000 grizzly bears. That ecosystem includes Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, portions of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian reservations, parts of five national forests, Bureau of Land Management lands and state and private lands.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks monitors the grizzly population and follows goals and strategies designed to maintain what some believe to be a healthy population of grizzly bears in the ecosystem.

This work includes tracking known “mortalities” - which does not always mean a grizzly has died. A bear relocated to the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem or to an accredited zoo are considered mortalities within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

The state reported Friday there have been 48 grizzly bear mortalities to date in 2018.

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