Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On August 28, 2023, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported that a pair of Whitefish men killed a grizzly bear in self-defense last weekend. The incident occurred in the Whitefish Range north of Whitefish and one of the individuals was injured in an accidental shooting during the encounter. According to FWP, the man was taken to a hospital and treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder. 

On August 26, 2023, in the afternoon, the two men were scouting for hunting season near Smokey Range Trailhead off Canyon Creek Road on the Flathead National Forest when they encountered a female grizzly bear with a cub.  

FWP reports the men were walking through a thick section of forest when they surprised the bears inside of 15 feet. The adult bear charged the individuals, and both men shot and killed the bear. One of the men was shot in the back shoulder during the incident. 

Montana FWP game wardens, and members of the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team, responded and investigated the incident. Wardens came to the conclusion that the bear’s behavior appeared to be defensive in the surprise, close encounter with the two men.  

FWP shared the initial findings with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement, and they concurred it was a self-defense situation. The grizzly bear did not have a history of conflict and was previously tagged for population monitoring work in 2009. The bear was approximately 25 years old. FWP continues to monitor the site for the cub. 

Montana is bear country and avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with conflicts. Click here to learn about some precautions to help residents, recreationists, and people who work outdoors avoid negative bear encounters. 

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