Video Captures Black Bear Chomping On Trail Camera On Wyoming - Montana Border

Steve and Nancy Cerroni set up trail cameras around the Pryor Mountain wild horse range near the Wyoming-Montana border to monitor mustangs. But a black bear stole the show Tuesday when it chomped on a local trail camera.

Mark Heinz

June 13, 20244 min read

This image from a trail camera shows a curious black bear right before it chomps on and knocks it around.
This image from a trail camera shows a curious black bear right before it chomps on and knocks it around. (Steve and Nancy Cerroni)

The Pryor Mountains straddle the Wyoming-Montana state line near Lovell and are probably best known for a wild mustang herd that roams the mountains.

But a black bear stole the spotlight Tuesday — if only for a short while. The bear strolled up and chomped on a trail camera set up near a watering hole on the Montana side.

Video taken from the camera shows the bear casually strolling up to the camera, and then chomping on it, giving an up-close-and-personal shot of the inside of its mouth — a view nobody wants to have in person. The bear then continues to push and paw at the camera with its paws and head.

The bear wasn’t harmed and no equipment destroyed in the making of the video, Nancy Cerroni of Lovell told Cowboy State Daily.

“He did not damage the camera. It was on a stand that was kind of wobbly to begin with,” Cerroni said.

Bears And Horses Share Space

She and her husband Steve run the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center. They frequently take visitors on tours into the mountains to view the mustangs out on the range, which they share with bears and numerous other critters.

The area has a healthy population of black bears on both sides of the state line.

“They’re usually pretty shy,” Cerroni said. “I’m so ‘bear unlucky.’ I’ve never seen them in person. The only place I’ve seen them is on the trail cameras. I’m up there a lot, but I never see them, probably because I’m noisy.”

The bears and mustangs seem to get along, she added.

“To my knowledge, the bears don’t bother the horses,” she said. “If there’s a dead horse up there, the bears will scavenge on the carcass, but they don’t bother the live horses.”

Are There Grizzlies About?

As far as grizzlies, Cerroni said she’s herd reports of “suspected grizzlies” in the area over the years, but there’s never been one confirmed on the mustang range.

There was a confirmed sighting of a grizzly bear in the Pryor Mountains about 30 miles from Billings ,Montana, in July 2023. It was the first time a grizzly had been confirmed in the mountains since the 1800s.

The Pryor Mountains nearly butt up against Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains, which were also rumored to have grizzlies. Confirmation finally came in April when a grizzly bear was killed by wildlife agents near for preying on cattle in the Bighorn Mountains near Ten Sleep.  

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‘He Was Just Curious’

In 2010, the Bureau of Land Management installed or improved water sources around the mustang range, including the one where the trail camera that the bear chomped on was set up, Cerroni said.

The cameras are great for tracking the activities and condition of the mustangs, and also offer a view into the variety of wildlife in the mountains, she said.

That includes the bears.

“We’ve seen lots of bears on the trail cameras, but this was the first one I’ve seen directly engage with a camera like that,” Cerroni said.

“I think he was just curious. I think he was headed down to get to the water, noticed the camera and decided he needed to check it out,” she added.

No Bears In Town Yet

While the bears frequent the mountains, the Mustang Center, down on the edge of Lovell, hasn’t been visited by bears yet, she added.

Five mustangs have a permanent home there, along with a quarter horse, Cerroni said.

Four of the mustangs were captured during roundups the BLM does occasionally to control the herd’s population, she said. They give visitors a chance to see mustangs up close and learn about them without having to go up into the mountains.

“The quarter horse was just a companion horse, a ‘buddy horse’ for one of the mustangs,” she said. “It also helps visitors to see the differences between the wild mustangs and a tame quarter horse.”

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter