MISSOULA, Mont. — Imagine you’re taking a stroll down Missoula's Kim Williams Trail when you come face to face with a bear. That’s exactly what happened to Sherene Aun.
“There was a bear which looked like a brown bear, I couldn’t see it’s head, but I saw it’s butt sticking out of the tents,” said Aun, a mental health advocate who works with the homeless. “I paused looking for cubs, stepped back and ran up the trail.”
In photos Aun took a few days later, you can see a grey tent left ripped open.
Aun says she called the City, Missoula Police and even state senators last week to see about a solution, but didn’t get far. We checked out the area today and found that one tent had been removed, but the ripped tent is still there. Bicycles are still at the camp, but we didn’t see any people.
We spoke with Fish, Wildlife and Parks and they confirmed it was a black bear. They’ve seen this particular bear in the area.
“It was one of the same bears that was working the University District earlier this summer,” said James Jonkel, Wildlife Management Specialist with FWP. “We’ve got a lot of bear activity along the edges of town right now.”
FWP put down a bear last week in East Missoula that dug through a door to get cat food. Now they’re working with the City to find a solution so that doesn’t have to happen again.
“I realize when you’re homeless, you just need a place to stay, but you’ve got to realize there’s bears and lions around and you have to use common sense,” said Jonkel. “The best solution now is to clean up the camp, get all the garbage out of there and if we have to, go set a trap.”
We reached out to the City who says FWP is who deals with bears, and the City’s Parks and Recreation department removes abandoned camping gear when they’re notified of it.
FWP says there’s one best solution for the safety of campers and trail-goers.
“I would like the city to clean up the camp,” said Jonkel.
As for Aun, she believes the City should take preventative action before someone else isn’t as lucky as she was.
“This is more of a public safety issue that would need to be addressed and I would hate for it to end up as a mauling or a death and then action,” said Aun.