With news like this, western Montanans might say to eastern Montanans, "Welcome to our world."

This might add fuel to the argument of those in favor of de-listing grizzly bears from the endangered species list. Is the footprint (big footprint) expanding into areas previously considered too far out of the animal's wheelhouse?

My good friend Brett French, Outdoor Editor of the Billings Gazette, tells us that a grizzly bear, believed to be an adult male given its estimated size, was recently photographed by a game camera in the Missouri Breaks. The camera was placed on American Prairie’s PN Ranch, a 48,500-acre ranch, located near where the Judith River joins the Missouri River, not far north of Lewistown and Winifred.

Now, even though Brett points out that grizzlies have been making pushes eastward in Montana for over 10 years, this is the farthest east one has actually been photographed. It helps validate Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks identifying grizzly tracks even farther east, near the community of Winifred. While still considered a bit more central than eastern Montana, it's a trend that is not being taken lightly.

As grizzlies seek new territory in a state where the population is increasing, Montana FWP has stepped up its education efforts in eastern Montana. In what is standard operating procedure in many parts of western and northwest Montana, workshops are now being conducted in the eastern part of the state, teaching people how to store attractants and how to effectively use bear spray.

So far, there are no indications that this photographed grizzly has caused problems with humans. In his article, Brett French says that, "Given the large swath of public land along the Missouri River in central Montana, it’s possible it will have all of the food resources it needs to continue avoiding interactions."

At least for now. More details on Brett's article can be found here.

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