Three different camping groups have had their food stolen by black bears near Big Creek Lake on the Stevensville Ranger District.
Tod McKay, Bitterroot National Forest public affairs officer, said another camper reported that the bears came into his camp and were not scared off even when he fired his rifle into the air.
Adult black bears and bear cubs have been seen in the area, which is in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness about 15 miles west of Stevensville.
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has been notified and signs warning of the problem bears have been posted at the Big Creek and Bear Creek trailheads - the two access trails to Big Creek Lake.
There are ways to help minimize bear encounters:

  • Camp away from areas where you see bear signs
  • Keep a clean camp; keep tents and sleeping bags free of odors
  • Avoid cooking smelly foods
  • Don't sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking or eating
  • Hang all food, trash and other odorous items well away from camp at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from any vertical support, such as a tree trunk.
  • Livestock food should be treated the same as human food.
    For more information on safety in bear country, visit
    or contact the Stevensville Ranger District (406) 777-5461.