Two Montana men killed a grizzly bear in self-defense this past weekend after surprising the animal and its cub.
According to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, the two men were scouting for hunting season, walking through thick forest in the Whitefish Range near Smokey Range Trailhead. The men came upon the bear within 15 feet, surprising the defensive mother and prompting her to charge. Both shot and killed the animal, with one of the men sustaining a gunshot wound to the shoulder in the chaos.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team responded to and investigated the incident. Initial findings pointed towards the incident being one of self-defense, and the bear’s behavior did appear to be due to the surprise. The approximately 25-year-old grizzly was tagged back in 2009 and had no history of conflict leading up to this incident.
Be Bear Aware
As always, being in bear country means following certain safety tips to prevent an incident like the one above. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks wishes to remind everyone how to Be Bear Aware.
- Always carry bear spray in bear territory. Know how to use it, and make sure it’s not expired!
- Travel in groups and make consistent, casual noises. Ensure the bear knows you’re coming well before you’re within 15 feet.
- Avoid dead animals and carcasses.
- Keep food properly stored in bear-safe containers, and follow the rules set by the applicable land management agency.
- DO NOT APPROACH BEARS. If you encounter one in the wild, leave the area when it’s safe!
- Keep garbage, pet food, and anything else that might attract a bear in a secure building. Put trash out only on collection day, and make sure to use bear safe containers!
- Never feed the bears. Never feed any wildlife, for that matter.
Hunting in bear territory requires that you follow the same rules above, along with a few additional ones. Be cautious around areas where noise doesn’t carry well, like a creek, and ensure that you’re keeping an eye out for bear sign. Make sure you bring all of the equipment and knowledge necessary to dress game and remove any meat from the kill site as quickly as possible. If you need to leave any meat in the field, make sure it’s hung at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 150 yards from the gut pile. Observe the meat from a distance upon return, with binoculars, and, if it’s been disturbed or if you see a bear, leave and call your local wildlife organization.