GARDINER — A group of hunters in the backcountry east of Gardiner shot and killed a grizzly bear in self-defense on Oct. 3, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP).
FWP said in a news release that the incident occurred as the hunters were processing a harvested elk near Bull Mountain during an early-season rifle hunt in Hunting District 316.
A female grizzly without cubs appeared near the group and charged at them. The hunters shot and killed the bear during its charge and were not injured.
FWP says the grizzly was approximately 3 to 5 years old.
According to the release, wildlife and enforcement staff from FWP and the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s Gardiner Ranger District met with the hunters and confirmed the bear's death.
The incident remains under investigation.
FWP reminds the public that recreationists, residents and people who work outdoors should be prepared for a surprise bear encounter.
Deliberately quiet or fast-moving activities, including hunting, mountain biking, or trail running, put people at greater risk of surprising a bear.
FWP urges the public to follow these precautions when recreating outdoors in Montana:
- Be aware of your surroundings and look for bear sign.
- Read signs at trailheads and stay on trails. Be especially careful around creeks and in areas with dense brush.
- Carry bear spray. Know how to use it and be prepared to deploy it immediately.
- Travel in groups whenever possible and make casual noise, which can help alert bears to your presence.
- Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
- Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
- If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Leave the area when it is safe to do so.
Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Management authority for grizzlies rests with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working closely in Montana with FWP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the Forest Service and Tribal lands. This collaboration happens through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
Click here for more information on bear safety.