Two Hikers Narrowly Escape Grizzly Bear Attack at Close Range on Montana Hiking Trail

by Amy Myers

Seeing a bear cub is exciting and cute for all of five seconds before you realize that mama bear is somewhere nearby. Luckily for these hikers, this grizzly bear attack didn’t end in disaster.

It’s hard to believe looking at the cuddly and playful grizzly bear cubs that they’re one of the most dangerous animals a hiker can encounter. Of course, the babies themselves are relatively harmless and wildly curious. There are hundreds of videos online that capture a couple of cubs tussling with each other, all fluff and no claws. But get too close and you’ll find yourself face to face with an overprotective mama.

In fact, some of the most severe grizzly bear attacks occur when a female bear (or sow) is escorting her cubs. Sows are famous for being extra aggressive around their little ones, so when these Montana residents spotted a couple of grizzly cubs on their hike, they knew they were in trouble.

On Tuesday, at around 8:30 p.m., two men and their dog were on a hike at the appropriately named Bear Creek area in Missoula, Montana. While on the trail, the men happened upon two grizzly bear cubs and the sow at close range. Defending her cubs, the grizzly bear attacked the hikers. Thankfully, though, the men came prepared with bear mace. Once they sprayed the sow, she and the cubs retreated and the men and their dog could safely escape.

Montana Wildlife Department Urges Hikers to Be Prepared for Potential Grizzly Bear Attacks

As a precaution to other Bear Creek hikers, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks have closed the trail where the grizzly bear attack occurred. Likely, this is to keep hikers off of the route that the sow uses with her cubs while foraging for food. While hikers can still access other trails in the area, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks posted signs around the area of the scene informing recreationists of the incident. The department also conducted an investigation with law enforcement officials from the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday.

Thankfully, for the men that encountered the grizzly bear family on Tuesday, they walked away (or rather, ran away) with only a few minor injuries. It was their preparation and ability to use defensive measures that saved their lives. That’s why, on top of the new signage and temporary restrictions around the grizzly bear attack, Montana’s wildlife department also encouraged hikers to take precautionary measures before their next hiking trip. Some of their tips included staying on trails, being aware of your surroundings, carrying bear spray, hiking in groups and storing food away from campsites.

No one ever wants to think that a grizzly bear attack could happen to them until it does. Montana’s main message for hikers is that it’s much better to be safe than sorry when faced with a protective sow.