Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had been searching for a black bear near Kalispell that mauled 85-year-old Barbara Paschke in her home on September 28: an attack that led to her death a few days later, but today, October 23,  FWP Public Information Officer John Fraley says they have decided to suspend the search.

“Bears were just no longer coming into the resident’s area for more than a week so we suspended trapping there,” Fraley said. “We also got some DNA results back and it looks like the bear that attacked her is a sibling of one of the bears we euthanized, so it was probably a yearling bear like the sibling was. We also found that it was a female bear that attacked her.”

Fraley says two bears in the area were caught and killed by FWP, since trapping began. Both bears showed signs of rampant bear feeding in the area. Paschke was cited in 2012 for feeding bears and there is evidence that bear feeding continued after that, but someone else appears to be doing the same thing still.

“We have not located any specific feeding points but based on the fact that the two bears we euthanized, their digestive tracts were full of non natural food,” Fraley said. “We are pretty sure that somebody is still either deliberately feeding bears or allowing bears to get into things like sunflower seeds, millet. We just can’t emphasize enough that people need to make sure bears don’t get into or get food rewards on any non natural foods.”

Fraley says FWP will be watching the area intensely next spring. It is possible the lack of bear activity in the area over the past week, could have been triggered by hibernation preparation.