NewsMontana and Regional News


Antler-hunter kills grizzly bear in encounter near Wolf Creek

GRIZZLY BEAR (file photo)
Posted at 9:33 AM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 13:26:56-04

GREAT FALLS — A man searching for antlers shot and killed a grizzly bear on April 25 during an encounter on private land northwest of Wolf Creek, according to a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP).

FWP says the man was walking along a ridge covered with low trees and brush with his two dogs at his side while searching for shed antlers. After seeing a fresh grizzly bear track in a snow patch, he continued along his path and a few minutes later he saw the bear standing near the top of the ridge about 20 yards away.

FWP says the bear charged the man, who drew his handgun and fired five shots from distances of about 30 feet to 10 feet, grazing the bear with one shot and killing it with another shot.

The man was not injured in the encounter. He was not carrying bear spray, according to FWP.

The adult female grizzly was in good condition, weighing around 300 pounds and estimated to be 12 years old. The bear had a single cub-of-the-year nearby that was later captured by FWP and taken to FWP’s wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena.

FWP is currently looking for placement for the cub at an accredited zoo.

The incident is being investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The deadly encounter comes at a time when bear activity is picking up. With the onset of spring weather, both species of Montana bears are active.

Grizzly bears run through Ulm neighborhood

Grizzly bears remain a federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act, even though populations have biologically recovered in two of their recovery areas, including the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

Here are some precautions to help residents, recreationists, and people who work outdoors avoid negative bear encounters:

  • Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.
  • Make noise to alert bears to your presence and travel in groups.
  • Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
  • Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
  • Keep garbage, bird feeders, pet food and other attractants put away in a secure building. Keep garbage in a secure building until the day it is collected. Certified bear-resistant garbage containers are available in many areas.
  • Never feed wildlife. Bears that become food conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose threats to human safety. It is illegal to feed bears in Montana.

For more information on living, working and recreating in Montana’s bear country, visit the FWP Bear Aware website.