Montana Hunters Kill Giant Grizzly Bear in ‘Self-Defense’ While Harvesting Bull Elk

by Jon D. B.

The small hunting party was forced to shoot and kill the female grizzly bear after she came into view with intent to charge.

A slew of Montana hunters are lucky to be alive after a harrowing encounter east of Gardiner. Their backcountry hunt turned horrific when a large grizzly bear sow came out of the brush.

The small group had harvested an elk as part of their early-season rifle hunt on October 3. Taking notice of their kill, the grizzly sow would charge the hunters who were forced to open fire.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ statement on the encounter cites it took place in District 316, and advises all other hunters to be “bear-aware” in the area. According to MFWP, none of the hunters would sustain injuries.

Thankfully, “The bear was a 3- to 5-year-old female without cubs,” MFWP states. This means no cubs have been orphaned. Some bear cubs must be euthanized if their mother is killed, as they will starve to death over the winter without her.

“Wildlife and enforcement staff from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s Gardiner Ranger District met with the hunters and confirmed the bear mortality,” the statement continues.

As of October 13, the incident is still under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

USFWS Urges Public to Practice Great Precaution After Grizzly Bear Sow’s Charge

As USFWS states, “recreationists, residents and people who work outdoors [can prepare] for a surprise bear encounter.”

Anyone who live in bear country, whether around brown or black bears, should practice extreme caution. Grizzly bear encounters, attacks, and fatalities are on the rise in 2021, and being “bear-aware” can and does save lives.

“Activities that are deliberately quiet or fast moving, such as hunting, mountain biking or trail running, put people at greater risk for surprising a bear,” USFWS continues. “Bears will be active throughout the general hunting season.”

As a result, please heed the following advice from USFWS when spending time in Montana’s bear-laden outdoors. The same applies to any “bear country” areas across North America:

  • 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. Knowing how to deploy it immediately is paramount.
  • 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.

For more tips on how to avoid bear encounters and survive attacks, we’ve got you there, too.

Stay safe out there, Outsiders!