John and Linda Holden don’t usually mind unexpected visits from “toddlers” but the two three-year olds that strolled into their yard on Saturday, May 12, around 6:30 p.m., they don’t really care to see again. The Holdens, who live eight miles west of Valier, watched for 20-25 minutes as two young grizzly cubs meandered through their property before being scared off by Bear Management Specialist Wesley Sarmento.
“John thought he saw a dog coming in the yard around 6:30 p.m.,” recalled Linda. “When he looked closer, he realized that there were two grizzly bears coming in the yard. He called me to come bring a camera. I brought my phone thinking he wanted me to photograph a Chinese Pheasant,” she laughed. She began photographing the bears and then changed to video and that video made the news and is now posted on YouTube.
View it here:
The Holdens spotted a bear in their field several years ago, but this was the first time they have seen one in their yard and close to the house on the lawn.
The Holdens watched the bears wander through the yard from their downstairs’ window at the back of the house. “There were cows grazing in a pasture behind the bears,” said Linda, “they just looked up but didn’t run.” When the bears heard Sarmento’s pickup they took off about 6:50-6:55 p.m.
Sarmento believes the bears were around three-years-old and are siblings. They were mostly attracted to the “unsecured bird seed” at the Holdens, he said, adding, “They were easily chased away.”
Sarmento pointed out, “There has been a group of grizzlies off of the Frances Heights road where the C3 canal enters the lake. We removed a deer carcass from the area and hazed the bears. They have not been observed since, at least to our knowledge,” he stated.
Sarmento continued, “There were two three-year old-bears near the lighthouse recently. Maybe it was the same group that was at the Holdens. We hazed these bears to Birch Creek.”
Sarmento said people wonder why Fish, Wildlife and Parks haze bears. “The goal is to teach grizzlies to fear people. Many of these bears haven’t caused a problem per se, but they are just too close to residences, which is a problem in itself. Hazing will keep bear away from people.” He continued, “Oftentimes, we want to avoid having to set out bear traps because trapping can actually increase the public safety risk. For example, if a cub is caught in a trap and the female is loose, that is very, very dangerous. Hazing is often the safer alternative for the community,” explained Sarmento.
“During the spring season grizzly bears are moving around a lot, especially sub-adults and females with young. This is because spring is mating season and large males will kill young grizzlies to make females receptive to breeding. Thus, young bears and females with young are moving a lot,” he stated.
Also, two and three-year-olds are being kicked off by their mothers, so those sub-adult bears are moving a lot to find there own home ranges. “These young bears have little experience with people; they are young and dumb, so they end up coming near homes. Therefore, hazing these young bears is important– it teaches them to stay away from people and our infrastructure.”