Bear spotted east of Missoula

Video of bear captured by Rebekah Cockrell

It’s only February, but there has already been a bear sighting, two months earlier than usual.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist James Jonkel says the animal’s den was likely flooded after a few days of rain and milder temperatures.

Rebekah Cockrell captured the video of the bear digging in the snow east of Missoula Tuesday, near Interstate 90 and Gold Creek. Jonkel says it appears the bear was digging for some roadkill and predicts he’ll den up again.

"He looked good. He wasn't real fat, but his fur looked good and he had a little meat on him. (It would) be my guess he's a subadult, and I guess he was probably denned in a culvert or kind of a tree well up on some draw, and as the snow started melting and the rain started falling, I bet his den just filled up with water and he pulled out," said Jonkel.

Jonkel says one or two bears get flooded out most years around this time, but it’s so few of them that it’s not something hikers need to worry about just yet.

"It's probably more common than people think. Just like humans have poor house selection sites, once in awhile a bear will den in the wrong spot too," said Jonkel.

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