Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Increasing bear sightings in Missoula residential neighborhoods has caused Missoula County Public Schools officials to ask parents to accompany their children to and from bus stops.

KGVO spoke to MCPS Communications Director Tyler Christensen on Tuesday morning for details.

“Probably everyone in Missoula by now has heard that it’s been a busy fall for bear sightings in town and that we should all be extra vigilant in watching for bears in our neighborhoods,” said Christensen. “This is particularly true in the early mornings and in the afternoons while we’re walking our kids to and from the bus stops. We’d like parents to just be aware that it’s really important to have an adult  accompany children to and from the bus stops every day while this bear activity continues.”

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Christensen said there have been bear sightings in specific school neighborhoods. 

“Every neighborhood should be on alert,” she said. “There’s a lot of activity in the Rattlesnake neighborhood. Over the weekend we got reports of bears within a block of C.S. Porter (Middle School) just off Reserve Street and on Hawthorne School on Third Street and those sightings are occurring every day.” 

Christensen provided tips for homeowners to stay safe from bears. 

“They’re coming into town in search of garbage cans that are not secured, and they’re looking for bird feeders, or any sort of food source that they can find and they’re being quite bold and protective about those food sources. It’s not enough to just honk your horn at a bear to scare it away anymore, so you might see the bears becoming more persistent about hanging around these neighborhoods which is not good for the bears.” 

He provided the proper website to report bear sightings. 

“Missoula Bears dot org is the Fish, Wildlife and Parks website where they maintain those reports and keep track of all that activity,” she said. “ For anyone who sees a bear in the vicinity of a school or bus stop it would be very much appreciated if they would also let the school know as well so that we can keep our families and staff informed and take extra precautions as necessary.” 

Christensen said parents should monitor the MissoulaBears.org website to see which neighborhoods are seeing the most bear activity.

Do not honk your horn at a bear while it is trying to get access to a food source such as an apple tree, as bears are becoming quite bold and protective about these food sources, she said.

According to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks bear expert Jamie Jonkel, there is a severe shortage of natural food sources for bears this fall, so they are coming into residential neighborhoods looking for food.

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