Last weekend (5/15), one of my Facebook friends shared the picture above of a cute little two-tone black bear, that she spotted on her way home. The adorable little guy (or girl) Ursus americanus was just roaming along on the side of the road near the outskirts of Billings.

Spotted near Duck Creek.

According to the social media post, the bear was spotted south of Duck Creek Road. The poster told me this is the first time she's seen a bear in their neighborhood, although they've noticed bear scat on their property in recent years. Her boyfriend saw one two years ago near their property and a neighbor has also seen a bear in the area.

Black bear laying on a cabin porch
CoyStClair, Getty Stock/ThinkStock
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Black bears are relatively common across Montana.

Various estimates place the black bear population in Montana at around 15,000 and they can be found in nearly every part of the state, from the dense forests and mountainous areas in the northwest to the rugged country in southeastern Montana. Red Lodge residents deal with bears on a regular basis. They are frequently spotted in the Emerald Hills neighborhood and a friend of mine had a black bear wandering around on their patio by Briarwood a couple of summers ago.

Photo by Yann Allegre on Unsplash
Photo by Yann Allegre on Unsplash
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Be bear aware, even around Billings.

Lots of people are getting outdoors this time of year, maybe out foraging for mushrooms or hitting their favorite fishing spots on the Yellowstone before spring runoff turns the water fast and murky. Most of us probably don't think about running into a bear in Yellowstone County, but they're definitely out there. Montana FW&P provides some great facts on black bears. For example, they're proficient tree climbers, unlike the grizzly, and they can range in color from black to brown or cinnamon. Thankfully, black bears are rarely aggressive. Make plenty of noise while you're out hiking around you'll probably never see one.

Read More: 7 Places for Fascinating Wild Animal Encounters in Montana 

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