Bears in Bozeman: High School and MSU, WHY?
I contacted Andrea Jones, Public Information Officer with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to ask what happened in the above incidents and what may explain the increase in bear/human encounters.
Bozeman High School Contact:
Bozeman PD were the first responders and the school staff did everything correct: Opened the exit doors to give the bear a way to retreat and room to roam, to find the escape route made available to them. In this case, the bear did so.
Montana State University:
The bear reported on campus yesterday was injured and tranquilized by FWP and transported to the agency's veterinarian. In this case, the bear had suffered a "high leg break" and would not have been able to survive if returned to the wild and was euthanized.
Why and What to Do:
Jones explained that at this time of the year bears are in the hyperphagia phase of their life seasonal cycle, seeking to load on calories to gain fat quickly. They are drawn to smells of food and tend to follow water in search of food. This instinct causes, mainly females with cubs, to lower elevations leaving dominate male bears in higher elevations to find food.
The rules to follow differ between urban encounters and back-country encounters and can be found here.
Bears generally prefer to stay away from you, so give them a space to retreat, make some noise, they're wild animals and will leave if given the space to do so.
And please, while it may be adorable to take a selfie of a bear in a tree, DON'T DO IT. You being near a treed bear means FWP can't do their job.
In case you missed it, here's a video posted by Twitter user @SeniorList of the bear inside the Bozeman High School: