Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials were forced to euthanize a three year-old male grizzly bear after it repeatedly broke into chicken coops, killing several chickens over a number of days.

District Program and Education Manager Dylan Tabish said the bear had to be put down because it had become ‘food conditioned.’

FWP personnel responded to a residence between Kalispell and Whitefish for a grizzly bear getting into a chicken coop,” said Tabish. “Our personnel set up game cameras and electrified the chicken coop, but either the power failed or the bear found another way in and killed several chickens. The bear also visited several other residences and got into garbage and bird feeders, and that showed the bear had become ‘food conditioned’ and that became a public safety issue, so we made the decision to capture and euthanize the bear.”

Tabish emphasized the importance of not allowing wild animals, whether they are grizzly bears or even urban deer in the Missoula area, to become food conditioned.

“Bears live by their noses, and if they smell food and can identify a food source, they will continue to come back to that food source,” he said. “Feeding wildlife is a really bad behavior. Not only does it harm the animal but it is also illegal to feed wild animals, even deer. Think about it. If a bunch of deer start hanging around a home then predators like mountain lions will find that out, and that’s why we have a lot of mountain lion conflicts around residents. In addition, disease can spread rapidly, so it just creates a whole assortment of negative situations for these animals, so we just encourage people to keep wildlife wild.”

Get ore safety information on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website, fwp.mt.gov.