Montana's SE Black Bear Population Increasing

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Dept., Bear Hunting Magazine

The population of black bears in southeastern Montana has continued to climb in the past seven years. This finding has prompted the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission to double the harvest quota for this upcoming fall hunt from four to eight bears. Bear hunting in this area (Region 7) began in 2006 in response to increased bear sightings and hunting interest.

Last year was the third consecutive year and the fourth time in seven years that the fall black bear hunting quota was met in this region. Fifty-five percent of Region 7 black bear harvests were by hunters targeting some other species. The spring quota has not been met yet.

Since the 2006 bear hunting seasons started in this region, twenty black bears have been legally harvested of which 14 were males and six were females.

In addition to the hunter harvest numbers mentioned above, six incidental harvests have been reported since 2003. These include road kills and livestock and crop depredation removals. Incidental harvests do not count toward the regional harvest quotas.

The Montana FWP expects that the black bear population will continue to grow and expand across this region of the state. They will continue to try and balance the sustained bear populations. Because much of the region is privately owned and is heavily used for livestock production, too many black bears can become problematic.

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