An international animal rights organization is offering a $1,500 reward, plus private citizens have thrown in another $2,500, to anyone with information on who killed a grizzly bear mother near Ovando.
The grizzly sow was found shot to death northeast of Ovando on November 3.
In Defense of Animals is based in California, with members around the world, including Montana. The group is critical of a government decision to place two of the three orphaned cubs at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Wildlife scientists couldn't catch a third cub.
The cubs' mother was killed by a single gunshot wound.
"If you consider a female bear needs about 70 miles to roam," said In Defense of Animals spokesperson, Anja Heister, "and obviously no zoo can provide for that kind of requirement."
But Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Vivaca Crowser said it was a "tough decision" to make.
"Probably their best chance of survival is go-to to a facility where they can be held and cared for," said Crowser. "And it can be educational when folks can come and visit the bears."
Crowser said it's possible the 9-month-old bears could survive on their own. But going into winter, it's not certain.
Scientists say with a threatened species, it's important to insure as many animals as possible survive.
In Defense of Animals said there needs to be a rehabilitation and release policy to insure cubs like these can live in their natural setting. If that isn't possible, the group said the bears should be placed in a sanctuary instead of a zoo.