Bear visits Letterman's cabin one time too many - Biologists trap bear, release it 50 miles north

Associated Press
The Spokesman-Review


CHOTEAU, Mont. _ The black bear that feasted in the kitchen of David Letterman's Choteau-area ranch house -- even swilling a bottle of whiskey -- returned once too often.

The 300-pound male bear was trapped on Letterman's front porch Sunday, its third visit, said Mike Madel, a grizzly management specialist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Wildlife biologists released the bear in the Flathead National Forest just south of Glacier National Park. That's about 50 miles from Letterman's ranch, across some of the most rugged country in Montana, Madel said.

Biologists hope it will den up before it can make it back.

Letterman wakened the morning of Sept. 20 to find the bear in his kitchen, ransacking his refrigerator and cupboards and helping itself to peaches, chocolate cake, beef jerky and other delectable foods.

Letterman regaled his national TV audience with the story last week, even showing off the vegetable crisper that the bear mangled.

The bear pushed in a window screen to gain entry that first time. It returned the next morning, Madel said, and chewed off a window frame to get inside.

The bruin scored again, eating more food and enjoying a bottle of whiskey.

"They're pretty manipulative with their front paws," Madel said. "They can even bite lids off sometimes and even hold a jar and drink."

Madel and his colleagues set up two culvert traps on Letterman's front porch.

"We baited it with a smorgasbord of bear food delights," Madel said. Chicken and apples were on the menu.

He estimated the bear was 12 to 15 years old and said it probably lived on Letterman's ranch. It was in good condition.

"As far as a black bear goes, it really was pretty large," Madel said.

Bears are hungry this fall because of a poor crop of chokecherries, buffalo thornberries and other fall staples.

"These bears are searching far and wide, and I have no doubt that's why that black bear was searching around Letterman's cabin originally and found food smells through the open window," he said.

Madel spotted a female grizzly a mile northwest of Choteau on Tuesday on the Teton River and has had four or five other reports of bear sightings in the area.


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