By RALPH BARTHOLDT
A grizzly bear captured by Idaho Fish and Game in August near Garwood where it was raiding chicken coops at residential properties is being monitored at its new digs near Bonners Ferry.
The 2-year-old male captured near Silverwood last summer was fitted with a tracking collar and released in the Cabinet Mountains near the Montana border. But it hasn’t stayed there.
“It moseyed itself down to the orchards pretty quickly after we moved it,” said wildlife biologist Laura Wolf.
The 176-pound bear has slipped into the outskirts of Bonners Ferry, seeking heavy cover during the day and ambling through fruit orchards near the Kootenai River at night, Wolf said.
The bear spent about three weeks along the Kootenai River just east of Bonners Ferry, and on an island in the river, eating chokecherries and elderberries. After the berry season ended it began visiting fruit trees around Bonners Ferry, according to Idaho Fish and Game.
“It is particularly fond of plums,” Roger Phillips of IDFG said.
Fish and Game is monitoring the bear and has tried twice to capture it and relocate it, but has not been able to lure it into a trap.
“We have a GPS collar on it, so we know where it is,” Wolf said.
So far, the grizzly has not gotten into trouble, such as killing livestock. While it traveled around Kootenai County it developed a taste for chickens. If it decides to seek out domestic animals, the department will likely attempt again to move it farther away from people.
“The hope is we can do that before it gets into trouble,” Wolf said.
Idaho Fish and Game initially trapped the sub-adult grizzly bear near Chilco last summer when it was spotted digging up and eating a goat that had been buried on private property, and a person reported the bear chasing sheep near Garwood. It was also photographed raiding a chicken coop.
The bear was fitted with a transmitter collar, and DNA samples were collected before the young grizzly was moved to a remote area of the Cabinet Mountains.
After its release, the bear quickly moved to the eastern end of the Kootenai Valley.
Because grizzly bears in North Idaho are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, specific guidelines must be followed when a bear is captured and released, according to IDFG.