MISSOULA — A Ronan woman is being credited for getting a boy and his caregiver out of harm's way after the pair encountered a large black bear while out walking on Terrace Lake Road early Saturday night.
Karrina Wedrick posted her thanks on the Mission Valley Safety Awareness Facebook page after the encounter.
Her 7-year-old son and his babysitter were walking to a friend's house in Ronan when it appears they startled a big black bear that was in the bushes who then started running towards them.
That's when Stephanie Perry -- who was driving down the road at that exact time -- saw them.
"So, when I was coming down the road, I saw these two people. And I couldn't make them out at first but they were running. And they were running like they were panicked a little bit, they were scared. “So, I got closer and all of a sudden, I thought it was a dog but it was a big black bear. They were scared. and I felt bad. I got them in the car and asked if they were ok and they said, now that we're in the car we're better!”
CSKT Wildlife Management recently posted about the increased bear activity along the entire Mission Mountain front. This time of year the brush is thick so a surprise encounter can easily happen and being “Bear Aware” is especially important anywhere in the Mission Valley.
Perry says she was glad she was there in the right place at the right time to help.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks offer up several tips on how to be "Bear Aware" while recreating in Montana including the following:
- Bear spray is a highly effective, non-lethal bear deterrent. Carry EPA-approved bear spray and know how to use it.
- Never feed wildlife, especially bears. Bears that become food conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose a threat to human safety. And it is illegal to feed bears in Montana.
- Know your bears. It is important to know the difference between grizzly bears and black bears, whether you are hunting or hiking.
- Always keep a safe distance from wildlife. Never intentionally get close to a bear.
- A properly constructed electrified fence is both safe for people, livestock and pets, and has proven effective at deterring bears from human-related resources such as beehives, garbage or small livestock.
- Follow the best practices listed below.
Best practices for safely exploring the outdoors
- Stay alert and look for bear activity, especially where visibility or hearing is limited (woods, bushy areas, streams).
- Travel in a group and keep members together (especially kids).
- Make noise whenever possible to avoid surprising a bear, especially where visibility or hearing is limited.
- Carry bear spray close at hand and know how to use it.
- Avoid traveling at night, dawn or dusk.
- Avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations..