The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal details the animals and plants you can easily see in Western Montana. The huckleberries are ripening and that brings out the bears. So, in this week's report, Bob Danley suggests you take bear spray along ... just in case. He encountered a bear northeast of Missoula (see photo above). It's always good to be prepared. A fairly cool summer so far has kept the "hot weather" creatures in low activity - but the cool, wet conditions have been great for wildflowers with over 120 species throughout the area, including Arrowleaf Groundsel, Aspen Fleabane, Fireweed, Pinedrops, and Spreading Dogbane. The Dogbane attracts butterflies. Bob saw the Melissa Blue, Small Wood Nymph and the Rocky Mountain Parnassian (see photo below).

Dragonflies will peak through the rest of the summer, into August. Pay attention near the wetlands. Checking the skies for birds, Bob saw a very active Peregrine Falcon at Bass Creek overlook. The falcons have nesting sites in various places throughout the Bitterroot Valley. And, at your backyard feeders, the hummingbirds are increasing in numbers. Enjoy!

Rocky Mountain Parnassian butterfly. (Bob Danley Photo)