FWP kills wounded sow grizzly that bit hiker

by Hungry Horse News
| April 9, 2020 1:21 PM

A hiker is recovering after fending off a bear attack with his pistol Wednesday evening in the prairie east side of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the encounter happened just outside of Dupuyer, between Browning and Choteau. Wildlife officials on Thursday euthanized the female grizzly bear that was shot in the incident.

The attack happened late in the evening when the hiker encountered a sow with a cub at close range. The sow attacked and bit the hiker in the thigh. According to the Fish and Wildlife report, the hiker had a pistol with him and shot the bear, injuring it. The injured bear moved off and the hiker walked back to his house in Dupuyer. He met emergency services along the roadway in route to the hospital.

Wildlife officials said the bear’s behavior indicated it attacked to protect her cub from a perceived threat posed by the hiker.

Wardens and bear specialists searched for the wounded bear late into the night. The search resumed Thursday morning with a state helicopter and ground crews. The injured sow was found and euthanized by state personnel.

The fate of the cub wasn’t immediately released. This would mark the first grizzly death in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem this year.

Officials note that although it is still early in the spring, people recreating outdoors in Montana should be prepared to encounter grizzly bears as they emerge from winter hibernation. This time of year, bears are hungry and looking for food, and often sows have cubs close at hand.

Also, with bears expanding their population and habitat, they can often be found in prairie settings, well away from the mountains, the state agency noted.