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The U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday that there were about 765 grizzly bears in northwestern Montana, a good bit more bear than the 250 to 350 estimated earlier. The results came from a five-year study of grizzly DNA derided as pork (to mix meat metaphors) by John McCain. Montanans wanted the study in the hopes that a high bear-count would lead to reduced restrictions on oil drilling and logging.
Now that there are more bear, there are more bear problems, reports the Choteau Acantha, a weekly paper in Teton County. Melody Martinsen reports that bears are increasingly dining on local livestock as they try to put on weight before winter. Bears are munching on sheep and cattle like they were party favors. Ranchers are setting snares, catching and relocating bears. Sheep producer John Hayne had put up three sides of an electric fence (paid for in part by Defenders of Wildlife), but the bears came in side four. Hayne fired some “cracker shells” at the grizzlies and chased them away. It’s pretty exciting out there in Teton County.