Hunter Shot, Mama Grizzly Killed During Surprise Montana Encounter

Bear had a cub, whose whereabouts are not known
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Hunter Shot Amid Encounter With Mama Grizzly in Montana
FILE - A grizzly bear roams near Beaver Lake on July 6, 2011, in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File)

Two hunters out scouting for hunting season in Montana's Flathead National Forest suddenly found themselves within 15 feet of a mama grizzly bear and her cub Saturday. The mother bear charged the men, who fired their guns, CBS News reports. The encounter ended with the bear shot dead and one of the hunters shot in the back shoulder, though officials have not said how that happened. The bear's death was ruled to have been from a self-defense shooting, and officials deemed her charging behavior defensive. The cub's whereabouts are not known, USA Today reports.

The 25-year-old mother bear, who had been tagged for population monitoring work in 2009, did not have a history of conflict with humans. Grizzlies are a protected species in 48 states, meaning it's illegal to kill one unless it's in self-defense. Officials say other cubs in that area have survived being orphaned and this one has a good chance of surviving as well, assuming it's in good shape. Officials are hoping to locate it so its health can be assessed. "If it looks healthy, we'll probably leave it be," a Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks rep says, since it is better off in the wild. If it was to be trapped, it would be sent to a zoo or euthanized if no zoo had room. (More Montana stories.)

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