Bear Smart Missoula

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The buffer zone is now in effect for Phase 1 - the Grant Creek and Rattlesnake areas. Read more information under the "News Feed" below. The next phase will go into effect in April 2025 for those south of Rattlesnake to Pattee Canyon, and for part of Farviews.

Missoula County and the City of Missoula adopted the expanded Bear Buffer zone in the fall of 2023. View frequently asked questions about the expanded Bear Buffer Zone under "FAQs" on the righthand side.

Missoula and Potomac now have new Bear Buffer/Mitigation Zones where all garbage has to be kept away from bears. The old Bear Buffer Zone was established in 2010 and was limited to city properties. The expanded zone will encompass the upper Rattlesnake, Bonner, Pattee Canyon, Miller Creek, Big Flat, O'Keefe Creek, Butler Creek, Grant Creek and the Potomac area. The commissioners and city council voted to adopt these regulations in fall of 2023.

According to the bear hazard management plan, from 2018 to 2021, 49% of the recorded bear-human interactions centered around bears and garbage. The new rules will address this problem by requiring bear-resistant containers in the bear buffer zone. The requirement will roll out in three phases, with the first phase including the Rattlesnake and Grant Creek, the second phase including the University of Montana and Pattee Canyon and the third phase encompassing the rest of the bear buffer zone. This will give the garbage collection services time to acquire enough bar-resistant containers, while prioritizing those areas with the most bear conflicts. Further, bear-resistant garbage containers or enclosures are required by the following dates. The phased approach gives haulers time to purchase and distribute the number of containers needed to serve the whole area:

Missoula bear buffer zone:

  • Phase 1 - April 30, 2024 (Grant Creek and Rattlesnake)
  • Phase 2 - April 30, 2025 (South of Rattlesnake to Pattee Canyon and part of Farviews)
  • Phase 3 - April 30, 2026 (Rest of the bear buffer zone)

Potomac bear buffer zone: Sept. 1, 2024

The Health Board approved this proposal at their meeting on Aug. 17, and recommended that both the Missoula County commissioners and city council adopt the health code changes, as well.

The commissioners opened this hearing at their public meeting on Sept. 14, and they made a final decision at their public meeting on Sept. 28.

The Public Safety, Health and Operations Committee at the City met on Sept. 13, and the first hearing at city council took place on Oct. 2, and they made a final decision on Oct. 16.

The increase in human habitation into wildlands and the increase in the Missoula Valley’s population has led to increased human-bear conflicts. The County and City recognize that this creates a public safety hazard and leads to food-habituated bears having to be killed. City and County leaders are collaborating with the Bear Smart Working Group, made up of concerned residents, bear experts and agency representatives. The group has followed the Bear Smart Community program developed in British Columbia, Canada. The goal of this group is to address the root causes of human-bear conflicts, reduce the risks to human safety and private property and reduce the number of bears that must be killed or relocated each year.

Missoula can reduce these human-bear conflicts using a combination of public education, promotion, ordinance enforcement and public and private partnerships to remove bears’ access to garbage, birdfeeders, livestock and pet food, tree fruit and unsecured outdoor freezers. Learn more about how Missoula is working toward being Bear Smart in the hazard assessment, the hazard management plan and the Bear Smart resolution.

The resolution was approved by Missoula County and the City of Missoula to establish a Bear Smart policy to help staff implement best practices to protect residents and bears in the Missoula Valley. The Missoula County commissioners and the Missoula City Council heard this resolution at their joint public meeting on Oct. 3.

You can read over the resolution, the hazard assessment and the hazard management plan.

Banner and project tile photo credit: Gwen Florio

The buffer zone is now in effect for Phase 1 - the Grant Creek and Rattlesnake areas. Read more information under the "News Feed" below. The next phase will go into effect in April 2025 for those south of Rattlesnake to Pattee Canyon, and for part of Farviews.

Missoula County and the City of Missoula adopted the expanded Bear Buffer zone in the fall of 2023. View frequently asked questions about the expanded Bear Buffer Zone under "FAQs" on the righthand side.

Missoula and Potomac now have new Bear Buffer/Mitigation Zones where all garbage has to be kept away from bears. The old Bear Buffer Zone was established in 2010 and was limited to city properties. The expanded zone will encompass the upper Rattlesnake, Bonner, Pattee Canyon, Miller Creek, Big Flat, O'Keefe Creek, Butler Creek, Grant Creek and the Potomac area. The commissioners and city council voted to adopt these regulations in fall of 2023.

According to the bear hazard management plan, from 2018 to 2021, 49% of the recorded bear-human interactions centered around bears and garbage. The new rules will address this problem by requiring bear-resistant containers in the bear buffer zone. The requirement will roll out in three phases, with the first phase including the Rattlesnake and Grant Creek, the second phase including the University of Montana and Pattee Canyon and the third phase encompassing the rest of the bear buffer zone. This will give the garbage collection services time to acquire enough bar-resistant containers, while prioritizing those areas with the most bear conflicts. Further, bear-resistant garbage containers or enclosures are required by the following dates. The phased approach gives haulers time to purchase and distribute the number of containers needed to serve the whole area:

Missoula bear buffer zone:

  • Phase 1 - April 30, 2024 (Grant Creek and Rattlesnake)
  • Phase 2 - April 30, 2025 (South of Rattlesnake to Pattee Canyon and part of Farviews)
  • Phase 3 - April 30, 2026 (Rest of the bear buffer zone)

Potomac bear buffer zone: Sept. 1, 2024

The Health Board approved this proposal at their meeting on Aug. 17, and recommended that both the Missoula County commissioners and city council adopt the health code changes, as well.

The commissioners opened this hearing at their public meeting on Sept. 14, and they made a final decision at their public meeting on Sept. 28.

The Public Safety, Health and Operations Committee at the City met on Sept. 13, and the first hearing at city council took place on Oct. 2, and they made a final decision on Oct. 16.

The increase in human habitation into wildlands and the increase in the Missoula Valley’s population has led to increased human-bear conflicts. The County and City recognize that this creates a public safety hazard and leads to food-habituated bears having to be killed. City and County leaders are collaborating with the Bear Smart Working Group, made up of concerned residents, bear experts and agency representatives. The group has followed the Bear Smart Community program developed in British Columbia, Canada. The goal of this group is to address the root causes of human-bear conflicts, reduce the risks to human safety and private property and reduce the number of bears that must be killed or relocated each year.

Missoula can reduce these human-bear conflicts using a combination of public education, promotion, ordinance enforcement and public and private partnerships to remove bears’ access to garbage, birdfeeders, livestock and pet food, tree fruit and unsecured outdoor freezers. Learn more about how Missoula is working toward being Bear Smart in the hazard assessment, the hazard management plan and the Bear Smart resolution.

The resolution was approved by Missoula County and the City of Missoula to establish a Bear Smart policy to help staff implement best practices to protect residents and bears in the Missoula Valley. The Missoula County commissioners and the Missoula City Council heard this resolution at their joint public meeting on Oct. 3.

You can read over the resolution, the hazard assessment and the hazard management plan.

Banner and project tile photo credit: Gwen Florio

  • CLOSED: This survey has concluded.

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Page last updated: 01 May 2024, 09:13 AM