GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Far from Winnie-the-Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood, a Montana grizzly bear was relocated for soothing the 'rumbly in his tumbly' by stealing honey from commercial hives.
State bear management specialist Mike Madel says it was surprising that the 4 1/2-year-old bear had wandered as far away as the town of Simms, about 20 miles east of its habitat in the Rocky Mountain Front.
In the fall, black and grizzly bears are constantly searching for food before they den for the winter. Madel figures that's what brought the bear to the Simms area.
"The local chokecherry crop is not very good, spotty at best," said Madel, who works for the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "I'm guessing he was following the chokecherries along the Sun River and found some beehives."
Beehives closer to the Front are protected by electric fencing, but those near Simms are not, Madel said.
Officials received the first report of a bear raiding a beehive on Sept. 9. A snare was set up on Sept. 22 after more beehives were raided and the bear was caught the next night.
The 575-pound male bear had not been in trouble or captured before. It was fitted with a radio collar and relocated in the Flathead National Forest, west of the Continental Divide, where Madel says the huckleberry crop is very good this year.
The incident came days after experts reported that grizzlies appear to have expanded their range in the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem.
The study, based on DNA collected from bear hairs left behind in the woods, estimated that 765 grizzlies live in Montana's northern Rocky Mountains.
That's about 2.5 times more than previously estimated.
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