Hunter ignores fresh grizzly tracks and finds himself face-to-face with an angry mother bear, Montana officials say

A man hunting for shed antlers ignored a fresh grizzly track in grizzly territory — and surprised a mother bear, Montana officials said. | Photo by Felicia Montenegro via Unsplash at Idaho Statesman

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – A man hunting for shed antlers in grizzly country violated several bear conservation best practices – and found himself confronted by an attacking mother bear, officials said.

The hunter and his two dogs surprised the bear on Thursday, April 25, while walking along a ridge on private property northwest of Wolf Creek, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks said in a May 3 news release. Wolf Creek is an unincorporated community approximately 35 miles north of Helena.

The ridge was covered with low trees and brush, which may have obscured the view of both him and the grizzly, plus he had the wind at his back as he walked, officials said.

He noticed a fresh grizzly track in a patch of snow — and kept driving, officials said.

Minutes later, he stumbled upon the bear standing at the top of the ridge about 20 yards from him, officials said. “The bear dropped to all four legs and attacked,” the press release said.

The man did not have bear spray, officials said. He pulled out a gun and fired five shots while the bear was between 30 and 10 feet away from him. One shot initially grazed the bear, but another hit her and killed her, the press release said.

He was not injured, officials said.

The adult bear was in good physical condition and was estimated to have weighed about 300 pounds at about 12 years old, officials said.

And she had a single cub that was nearby during the encounter, officials said.

Officials said department bear management specialists later captured the cub and took it to the FWP Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Helena. The department hopes to place the cub in an accredited zoo.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident, officials said.

“Montana is bear country,” officials said in previous news releases. “Grizzly bear populations are becoming denser and more widespread in Montana, increasing the likelihood that residents and recreationists will encounter them in more locations each year.”

To avoid negative bear encounters, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks experts advise people in bear country to do the following when outdoors:

Bring bear spray with you and have it ready as soon as you see a bear. Travel in groups and make a lot of noise to alert the bears to your presence. Stay away from animal carcasses that attract bears. Follow local land management authority orders regarding food storage. Never approach a bear you encounter and leave the area when it is safe. Keep trash, bird feeders, pet food, and other smelly items that attract bears in a secure building where bears cannot access them. Keep trash locked until pickup day or use certified bear-proof dumpsters. Never feed wild animals. It is illegal to feed bears in Montana. Bears that become habituated to human food lose their instinctive foraging behavior and become a threat to human safety.

People hunting and fishing in areas with grizzly bears should take additional precautions, such as:

Be especially careful near streams and “reduced visibility” areas, such as: B. dense forests and areas with dense vegetation. Watch out for bear signs. Hunt or fish with a group of people and make “local” noise to avoid sneaking up on bears. Keep in mind that elk calls and “cover scents” that interfere with human scent can attract bears. Bring the right equipment and the right number of people you need to successfully capture hunted game and remove the meat from the area as quickly as possible. Hang any meat you need to leave behind at least 10 feet above the ground and 500 feet from the casing pile. Make sure it is visible from at least 200 meters away. When you return to collect the remaining meat, examine it with binoculars for signs of trouble. If touched or a bear is nearby, leave the area and call Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Officials said grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Anna Harden

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