Well, we are ‘Wilderness Farms’ after-all …
Recently a big male Grizzly bear took a liking to our hogs in Montana. This guy learned to have an inclination for livestock before he got here, and overcome electric fencing on two separate occasions to take two of our pigs. I experienced one of these horrific events one night around midnight … something I would not wish upon anyone.
Fish and game tried to trap him for several days, and he just wouldn’t go into the culvert trap. Turned out he had been trapped before, and obviously remembered that experience.
The agents finally got him with a leg snare. Since he had become acclimated to livestock, he had become dangerous and they dispatched him.
I’m a retired wildlife biologist, doing my undergrad down in Missoula. Bears were my initial focus early on … this experience has really had a hard impact on me. Our little farm outside of Bigfork, MT sits right in the middle of an historic corridor between the Swan and Mission mountain ranges. And we share our trespassing ways with hundreds of other residents in the region … with our garbage, dirt bikes, dogs, guns, barbecues… and livestock. Bear numbers have increased quite a bit since my college days up here, but nothing like that of the human population. Now it’s the ‘Zoomers’. So, here we are. Enjoying this beautiful country as Grizzlies and other wildlife try to get along with their ancient ways. And once in a while they grab a sheep, a hog, get into your garbage, knock over the BBQ … why wouldn’t they? Grizzlies are dangerous and unpredictable. Most of the time they’ll run from us … but not all the time. Experiencing this attack on one of my animals really has struck me at the core of who I am, what I really care about, and showed me first-hand how powerful these bears really are.
But as always, the bears lose these confrontations … and so did ‘ours’. I’m really heartbroken about it. I’ll never forget it. I wouldn’t trade this bear for a hundred hogs.
But that’s just me.
Love the land your farms sits on. And everything that depends upon it. Not just ourselves.