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State wildlife officials discuss Big Sky bear attack

Big Sky Grizzly Bear Attack
Posted at 10:38 AM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 12:40:50-04

BOZEMAN — Many parts of Montana are now considered bear country and on Monday in Big Sky, there was a bear attack in the Spanish Peaks area.

MTN News talked with Morgan Jacobsen from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks about the bear attack -- and what you can do to keep yourself safe.

“Finding a bear in this area is not unexpected. Big Sky in the Spanish Peaks area is well within occupied grizzly bear habitat,” Jacobsen said.

A man in his 60’s was riding his bike Monday on a now-closed private trail when he ran into the grizzly bear.

“A lot of this investigation is still ongoing. There’s a lot we don’t know,” Jacobsen explained. “We do know this mountain biker was alone at the time of the attack and fortunately they did survive and they were able to get medical attention.

A grizzly bear reacting defensive in nature when surprised is typical, according to Jacobsen.

“Sometimes the nature of activities that are deliberately fast-moving, or quiet such as hunting our mountain biking or trail running, puts recreationists at an increased risk for surprising a bear.”

Interactions between people and wildlife are not uncommon and being tucked away due to COVID-19 has not increased the presence of animals in certain areas.

“Interactions between people and wildlife is on the rise because we do have a growing population, especially in Gallatin County.

Lastly, there are a few things to remember when you're doing outdoor activities.

“Staying on trails is a big thing, that does a lot of good for wildlife habitat,” Jacobsen advised. “It’s super important to keep bear spray, travel in groups wherever possible, and just be aware of your surroundings.”

The man who was attacked is still in the hospital and has not yet spoken about what happened. FWP reports the bear will not be sought after as it was determined the bear only reacted to being surprised.