Jul 11, 2023

Montana Myth Busted: Grizzly Bears are Thriving in the Bitterroot

There has always been the belief that the Bitterroot Valley is NOT home to grizzly bears. It was in the past when Lewis and Clark first arrived. But, the population of bears dropped dramatically over the years and the last recorded grizzly sign in the valley was in 1942. Since then, the Bitterroot ecosystem has gone without the giant bear.

According to

In late 2018, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured a young male grizzly bear on a golf course north of Stevensville along the Bitterroot River. The bear was relocated to the southern edge of the Northern Continental Divide. In 2019, a collared male from the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem travelled south of I-90 and spent about two months moving around the Bitterroot Ecosystem before heading back north into the Cabinet Mountains to den in October.

So, it appears that grizzlies are slowly making their way back to the valley. But, new research shows that they may not be moving as slowly as we thought. In fact, biologists have recently discovered far more bears than expected in the Bitterroot ecosystem. As well as discoveries of bears in the Upper Clark Fork.

According to the Bitterroot Star

Details of one of the photographed bear’s movements was also tracked on a radio collar and downloaded later. The data showed that the bear left the Seeley Lake area this spring, crossed Interstate 90, moved through the Flint and Rock Creek areas, and then traveled as far south as Sula in the Bitterroot Valley.

So, no longer can you tell yourself "There are not any grizzlies in the Bitterroot." Next time you are out on your hike, or hunting anywhere in western Montana, know that you are in griz country. Be bear aware.