Forest Cop on Bike Died After Surprising Grizzly

He had no time to brake, investigation finds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2017 12:03 AM CST
Forest Cop on Bike Killed in 'Surprise Encounter' With Bear
A grizzly bear roaming near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File)

A federal report on the tragic death of Forest Service officer Brad Treat is out and the message is clear: Beware of what could be around the corner when you're mountain biking. The 38-year-old officer was mauled to death by a grizzly bear he surprised while mountain biking with a friend in the Flathead National Forest in Montana last year. According to the Board of Review's report, Treat slammed into the bear at high speed after rounding a blind curve on the trail, which he biked or jogged almost every day, the Great Falls Tribune reports. Treat broke both his wrists in the fall and was attacked by the bear, which bit his helmet to pieces. Investigators say Treat apparently had no time to try to brake.

Investigators say Treat's friend—who didn't have a phone, firearm, or bear spray—waited for "a short time" before deciding against trying to push the bear off the officer, KBZK reports. He went through the forest to a highway and flagged down a car, but Treat was dead by the time help arrived. Since it was deemed to be a surprise encounter rather than a predatory attack, the bear—which didn't eat any part of Treat—was not hunted down. Board of Review member Chris Servheen says there are lessons to be learned for biker safety. "The main thing is to slow down in places with little sight distance, meaning you can't see very far," he says. "When the trail is thick with vegetation or has curves, we recommend you slow down and shout when approaching blind curves." (Read more grizzly bear stories.)

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