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Camper bitten in possible bear incident near Big Sky

Posted at 1:23 PM, Jun 16, 2020

A woman was bitten by what investigators believe to be a bear while camping last week in Beehive Basin just northwest of Big Sky.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks was notified of the incident on Friday. According to the victim, she and another person were camping on private land near the Beehive Basin trailhead when they were awakened early Thursday morning by a large animal pushing or “falling” on their tent. The two campers kicked and yelled at the animal to scare it away, and it bit one of them on the leg from outside the tent, then left the campsite. The campers did not see the animal.

Fortunately, the victim’s injuries were relatively minor, and she sought prompt medical treatment.

FWP believes it was a bear that bit the woman, based on her account of the animal’s behavior and the nature of the bite wound. However, no bear tracks have been found near the trailhead to confirm whether it was a grizzly or a black bear, but the bite wound indicated it was from an adult-age bear.

Initial details of the incident indicate the bear’s behavior was likely investigative, not predatory, and that the bite was defensive. The victim reported that their food was stored securely in their vehicle, not in the tent, and that they were wearing clean clothes.

FWP will be monitoring the area closely with other agencies for potentially hazardous bear behavior. FWP has worked with the U.S. Forest Service to add signs warning other recreationists in the area of the recent bear activity. This incident is still under investigation.

FWP reminds recreationists to be cautious and prepared for a bear encounter when recreating in Montana. Some recommended precautions for avoiding negative encounters with bears include:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and look for bear sign.
  • Carry and know how to use bear spray.
  • Stay away from animal carcasses.
  • Travel in groups and make noise whenever possible.
  • Follow U.S. Forest Service food storage regulations.
  • If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Back away slowly and leave the area.
  • If a bear approaches your tent, make your presence known gradually. If it attempts to enter your tent, fight back.

For more information on staying safe in bear country, visit