MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife officials say there has been a surge of bear deaths along Montana highways as more bears have been making their way down to river valleys in search of food ahead of their winter hibernation.

The Missoulian reports Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear expert, Jamie Jonkel, says 14 bears have died on highways near the Clark Fork and lower Blackfoot river valleys. The bears have been killed in collisions on Interstate 90, Highway 10 and Highway 200.

According to wildlife experts, the bears started heading down early this year, in July and August, after an early berry season in the mountains came to an end.

Jonkel says more bear deaths are expected in coming weeks, but that by the end of October there should be less road kills.

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Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com