The animals are pouring down from higher elevations to snack at the apples ripen.
Ground crews began initial attack on the fire, but had to withdraw for safety reasons.
State pilots have watched helplessly as wildfires spread on federal lands while waiting for approved aircraft to respond. The problem: Their water buckets are too large.
The fire is burning about 2 ½ miles south of Essex, near U.S. Highway 2 and BNSF’s main northern rail line.
Montana ranchers have been reimbursed for 42 animals killed by grizzlies so far this year — eight more than in all of 2014, not counting the 22 cattle lost this year to bears that have not yet been claimed.
The chairman of the North Dakota Dry Pea & Lentil Council said his state stopped trying to count Montana crops separately last year because Montana failed to accurately track North Dakota crops.