The fate of a Montana grizzly bear responsible for the deaths of a remarkable 70 sheep during a two-week spree is in question, now that the sow and her cub have been trapped.
Wildlife officials described the spree, which involved 58 sheep at a single ranch, as unprecedented.
Kills occurred on three different ranches, with lambs being the favorite target. Both bears were trapped on Muddy Creek near Collins, according to the Great Falls Tribune.
The story clarifies that the mother bear didn't actually kill all 70 sheep. Some were severely injured in attacks and later died, while others were trampled to death by during attacks.
Experts with the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department and two federal agencies hoped to determine Monday afternoon whether to try to relocate the bears to more remote areas, far from livestock.
"She’s gotten this protein reward from domestic sheep so she’s looking for sheep," Mike Madel, a grizzly bear management specialist with FWP, told the Tribune. He explained that while the bear could not consume so much meat in so much time, it was still acting on predatory instinct, and not killing for sport.
In fact, the 4-year-old bear is unusually young for a mother and neither she nor her cub look particularly robust. Madel said the mother bear had no prior history of livestock predation.
Because the cub is only 6 months old and still dependent on its mother, it will be sent to a rehabilitation center if officials decide to euthanize the mother.
-- Image showing the grizzly sow roaming wild before the killing spree is courtesy of the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department