Because we live in excellent bear habitat, black bears are extremely common and grizzly bears sometimes inhabit the Sixmile and Ninemile Valleys.

In 2009, we developed the Bear Aware Program with the following objectives:

1. Keep residents and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks informed about bear sightings and conflicts

2. Reduce and prevent human-bear conflicts

3. Alert neighbors when bears are nearby

4. Promote hunter safety in bear country

We divided the Ninemile and Sixmile areas into three sections. People who live in those sections can work with a coordinator to either report problem bears or to be notified when there is a potential problem bear near their home. Please contact your coordinator to get added to an email notification list, to get additional information about the program, or learn how to become more bear-savvy. Your coordinators are:

  • Upper Ninemile section is coordinated by Pat Sweeney, 626-1610, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Lower Ninemile section is coordinated by Melissa Reynolds-Hogland, 626-1627, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Sixmile area is coordinated by Rickie van Berkum, 626-4587, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Wildlife-Resistant Garbage Bin Program
Wildlife looting trashcans for food leads to problems for the animals and the people involved.  It means not only a big, ugly mess and a destroyed garbage can for humans, but it also means the individual animal has learned where the easy treats occur and will come back again and again. Eventually, that animal will likely be removed from the population by wildlife managers.

Republic Services (formerly Allied Waste Services) has bear resistant garbage bins available to reduce these conflicts. Residents of the Ninemile and Sixmile Valleys are encouraged to use bear-resistant garbage containers.

The Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup secured a grant to cover much of our area with bear resistant garbage cans. You can read the details of this project here.

Bear Spray Program
In the past, Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup has provided over 100 reduced-cost bear spray to help protect people and bears.

Living with Bears and other Wildlife
If you want more information on living with bears, you can visit the Living With Wildlife website.
For additional information about living with other wildlife visit our Resources page.
How to Keep Bears Out of the Yard

Grizzly Bear with bear proof container

Black bear in garbage

Black bear female and cub in trash

Stark Mountain

Stark Mountain Winter





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