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Bird hunter injured by grizzly bear east of Choteau

GRIZZLY BEAR (file photo)
Posted at 12:06 PM, Oct 12, 2022

GREAT FALLS — A 51-year-old man was injured by a charging grizzly bear in Teton County on Tuesday, October 11, 2022.

The man and his wife, who were hunting for upland birds in a creek bottom east of Choteau, encountered the grizzly bear at around 1 p.m.

The bear charged out of thick brush at close range. The hunter fired at the bear with a shotgun and handgun, wounding the bear and stopping the attack.

The hunters and their dogs left the area and notified authorities of the attack.

Teton County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Grove said the man sustained "pretty severe" scratches from the bear's claws, but the injuries were not life-threatening.

Bear management specialists, game wardens, and Teton County Sheriff's deputies returned to the site, where they found and euthanized the injured bear, after consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The 677-pound adult male grizzly had no known history of human conflict and had never been handled by bear managers, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Evidence at the site suggested the attack was the result of a surprise encounter, according to FWP.

FWP advises everyone to guard against surprise encounters and remain vigilant and safe in bear country:

  • Carry bear spray in an easily accessible location and be prepared to use it immediately.  
  • Look for bear sign and be cautious around creeks and areas with limited visibility.  
  • Hunt with a group of people. Making localized noise can alert bears to your presence.  
  • Be aware that elk calls and cover scents can attract bears.  
  • Bring the equipment and people needed to help field dress game and remove the meat from the kill site as soon as possible. 
  • If you need to leave part of the meat in the field during processing, hang it at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 150 yards from the gut pile. Leave it where it can be observed from a distance of at least 200 yards.  
  • Upon your return, observe the meat with binoculars. If it has been disturbed or if a bear is in the area, leave and call FWP.

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