updated 9/19/2010 10:09:53 AM ET 2010-09-19T14:09:53

A black bear sow with a history of killing chickens and causing other problems in the Helena area has been euthanized, but her two cubs are being given another chance.

Dave Loewen, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden, said the three bears were captured in early July after they killed a resident's chickens south of Helena. The bruins were relocated miles away across the Helena Valley, but they returned in mid-July and were back to their old habits.

"We started getting reports up Orofino and Grizzly gulches that another sow with cubs were causing trouble," Loewen told the Independent Record. "People were asking whether they were the same bears as before, but I didn't think so because we relocated them pretty far away."

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After several reports that the bears were knocking over garbage cans, the FWP set traps and caught the trio Sept. 1.

The sow was put down because it was her third offense, and the 40-pound cubs were caged along with six other bears that will be released into the wild later this year. One of the cubs escaped the cage a couple of days later, on Sept. 3.

"We heard the cub was running down Custer Avenue near the church on Benton," he said. "As we're responding, dispatch keeps getting calls from people seeing the bear running through their yards and into that subdivision north of Custer."

The cub was cornered in a back yard and recaptured.

The game warden still wonders how the cubs and their mother made the trek across the Helena Valley back to where they had been picked up the first time, and he's not sure why they returned. Most area residents in the area know to keep their garbage cans and pet food indoors.

"They have to have some sort of homing device," Loewen said, "like fish that know how to spawn upstream."

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