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Grizzly bear ID’d in surprise attack near Columbia Falls

Posted at 2:01 PM, Nov 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-13 19:43:07-05

KALISPELL – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have determined that a hunter was attacked by a grizzly bear near Columbia Falls on Sunday.

The man, a 36-year-old from Whitefish, was flown to Kalispell Regional Medical Center where he was listed in stable condition on Monday.

Montana FWP said the man was hunting with a partner when he walked off the forrested trail and the bear attacked him. The bear bit both of the victim’s arms and dragged him by the leg approximately 7 to 8 feet before letting go and running away.

The victim’s hunting partner contacted authorities. FWP’s Wildlife Human Attack Response Team responded along with Two Bear Air Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and ALERT Air Ambulance.

Investigators say the incident was a surprise encounter, and they will not take any action against the bear.

FWP offers the following tips to stay safe in bear country.

  • Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray.
  • Stay alert and look for bear activity, especially where visibility and hearing is limited.
  • Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
  • Make your presence known by making noise, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
  • Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.
  • Avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations
  • If you harvest an animal at dusk, be prepared to cut up the carcass in the dark by carrying strong headlamps. Be extra vigilant and watch for bears.

For more information about staying safe in bear country, visit