Mother grizzly bear killed after surprise encounter with two men in forest

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A tagged mother grizzly bear with no recorded past history of being aggressive was shot and killed in Montana by two men; one of the men was accidentally shot in the back by his partner.

According to a statement by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the two men had been in a section of the Smokey Range Trailhead in the Flathead National Park scouting for hunting season on August 26 when the mom grizzly and her cub approached within 15 feet of the men. The mother bear was alleged to have charged at the men, and the men, carrying their rifles, fired in self defense, killing the 25-year-old bear. One of the men was shot in the back shoulder during the incident.

The bear’s behavior appeared to be defensive in the surprise, close encounter with the two men. FWP shared the initial findings with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement, and the USFWS concurred it was a self-defense situation. The grizzly bear did not have a history of conflict and was previously tagged for population monitoring work in 2009. The bear was approximately 25 years old. FWP continues to monitor the site for the cub.

USFW news release

The mother bear had been tagged for population monitoring since 2009. Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and it is illegal to kill them.

The population of grizzly bears has been increasing, and the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks recommend people never leave food out, avoid approaching or feeding bears, and always carry bear spray to discourage bears from getting too close. Bears seldomly attack humans except when directly antagonized or guarding their young. It is advised, when in the forests to stay vigilant and make lots of noise to make sure bears know where you are and will likely avoid any encounters.

Grizzlies are well known for being very protective of their cubs. The cub has not been located; cubs normally stay with their mothers for the first two years of their lives, and family bonds remain strong throughout their lives.

Montana is bear country. Avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with conflicts.


Rest in peace mom bear. We hope your cub is safe and is rescued soon if needed.

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