Scale of Impact

Bear Smart Big Sky


Good things are happening in Big Sky, and, as this map clearly indicates, many homeowner associations are engaged in making trash inaccessible to bears. More and more areas are switching to bear resistant waste management systems each year, but what does it all mean? You can find more information about the different trash receptacle options below, but it is worth mentioning the need for a unified front when it comes to living with bears. Bears are opportunistic feeders, and will often go after the easiest source of food available to them. If you start storing your home's trash in a bear resistant container but your neighbor is still using a “bear friendly” trash can, bears will continue visiting your neighborhood because there are still obtainable food rewards. As bears become more accustomed to non-natural food sources they become bolder around people, entering homes and vehicles, causing property damage, and raising concern for the safety of people and bears alike. In contrast, if your entire neighborhood switches to bear resistant cans, we can break the cycle of habituating bears to people. We are working towards a map that has no gray areas, which would mean that all of Big Sky is committed to reducing conflicts with bears and encouraging more natural bear behaviors. To boost participation, we will be launching a Bear Smart Certification Program in 2018 that gives remaining homeowner associations incentives to join their neighbors in reducing attractants for bears.

Understanding your options:

Bear Resistant Dumpster - These bulk trash receptacles are frequently used in high density residential areas, such as apartment complexes, condominiums, or commercial areas, and look something like this. Dumpsters are a good start, but the location of the door can be challenging for some people to reach and operate. This can result in the doors getting left open or trash placed outside the dumpster, which makes this option less bear resistant and less preferable.

Bear Resistant Curbside Cans - The best choice for dispersed, stand-alone homes, bear resistant trash cans are made of sturdier material than regular trash cans and feature latches on the lid that bears cannot operate. Similar to dumpsters, they are only bear resistant if used properly, which means they cannot be overfilled and must be latched properly.

Bear Resistant Compactor - Perhaps the most bear resistant option out of the three, bear resistant compactors are also best used in highly populated areas with large quantities of waste. The benefit of compactors is that they are a closed system that compresses trash into a smaller volume, making it harder for bears to access. 


Carcass Management

photo credit: lucinda morris

photo credit: lucinda morris


 Many of the carcass composting sites in the state were opened as a proactive strategy to reduce negative interactions with expanding grizzly bear and/or wolf populations. As you can see, this program is much bigger than just us! A host of conservation- and safety-minded organizations across the state are working to implement carcass removal programs in their watersheds. Each of these sites accepts carcasses from a large area, giving us a patchwork collection of areas that are removing carcasses and reducing attractants for predators. With each new site that is opened, the network grows and covers more area with this important tool in proactive human-wildlife conflict reduction.

We are busy gathering more information for this map, check back soon for updates!

Wildlife Speaker Series


Since its initiation in 2013, the Wildlife Speaker Series has been one of our most popular offerings, attracting over 3,400 people during its 5-year run. Initially introduced to bring people together and provide a safe space to share information about our less controversial wildlife species, the Series has inspired people to care about wildlife and raised awareness of the complexities that come with living and working in close proximity with wildlife. But don't just take it from us, here's what attendee Tom Bowler had to say about it all:

Yet another spectacular season of the Wildlife Speaker Series within the grandest lecture hall of them all — southwestern Montana. The program is just that enjoyable, insightful, and beneficial to galvanize a person to venture out to take part. This is how we learn and bear testament to the highly honed craft and back breaking passion of those who are digging into wildlife issues and sharing them. By attending the series, I know what intense effort is required to attain knowledge and speak with authority about a subject. I know what the agriculture folks are up against and the sacrifices they make to bolster wildlife. I know, I know, I know and can attest to it all because I attended the series.
— Tom Bowler

With this map, we present to you the places we've been and the people we've built relationships with in pursuit of sharing knowledge with the communities that make this place what it is. We look forward to bringing this Series to new places and new people in upcoming years!

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