The Missoula City Council last night finalized the decision to expand its bear buffer zone, including new regulations around garbage storage and a bear mitigation zone in Potomac, Montana. The Council’s final supporting vote comes after the Missoula County Commissioners voted in support of the new regulations and buffer zone on September 28, 2023. All residents in the buffer zone and Potomac bear mitigation zone will be required to use bear-resistant garbage containment.
“We are excited to see Missoula advance the effort to reduce conflicts between people and bears,” said Erin Edge, Defenders of Wildlife’s Rockies and Plains Senior Representative. “Missoula and its growing neighborhoods are situated amid beautiful wildlands, including key grizzly bear habitat. As grizzly bears expand south and move around Missoula, it is particularly important they are not lured into trouble by getting into people’s garbage.”
The approved changes are a continuation of Missoula’s Bear Smart resolution, which the city and county approved on October 3, 2022. Defenders invests both time and funding in implementing conflict prevention tools on the ground, is a key participant on the Missoula Bear Smart Working Group and is a long-time partner in disseminating educational resources through Missoula Bears.
“Bears’ ability to access garbage accounts for almost 50% of human-bear conflict in the Missoula area. While we recognize this significant achievement, we also acknowledge there is still work to do. Defenders is committed to the Missoula Bear Smart Working Group by identifying available resources to support coexistence efforts, addressing additional needs of the community and assisting with expanded outreach efforts,” said Edge.