Grizzly killed during investigation of bear attack near West Yellowstone

GRIZZLY BEAR (file photo)
Posted at 8:56 AM, Apr 17, 2021

WEST YELLOWSTONE — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) reports that investigators shot and killed a grizzly bear on Friday while at the scene of a separate bear attack that happened Thursday near West Yellowstone.

A safety closure remains in effect due to Thursday's attack just south of the Baker’s Hole campground, about three miles north of West Yellowstone. A 40-year-old West Yellowstone man was mauled by a bear and transported to Idaho Falls for treatment of severe injuries. The man was still in serious condition as of Friday, according to a news release from FWP.

On Friday, seven FWP investigators revisited the site of the attack, yelling and making continuous noise as they approached to haze away any bears in the area.

The release said an older-age male grizzly began charging the group before they reached the site. All seven investigators made multiple attempts to haze the bear away, but it continued to charge.

The grizzly was shot due to the immediate safety risk and died roughly 20 yards from the group.

A moose carcass was later found within 50 yards of the site of Thursday's attack; FWP says this indicates the bear was defending a food source during the attack.

The FWP release did not confirm that the grizzly killed Friday was the bear involved in Thursday's mauling.

FWP reminds the public that deliberately quiet or fast moving activities—including hunting, mountain biking or trail running—can put you at greater risk of surprising a bear.

Precautions to observe include:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and look for bear sign.
  • Read signs at trailheads and stay on trails. Be especially careful around creeks and in areas with dense brush.
  • Carry bear spray. Know how to use it and be prepared to deploy it immediately.
  • Travel in groups whenever possible and make casual noise, which can help alert bears to your presence.
  • Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
  • Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
  • If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Back away slowly and leave the area.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Management authority for grizzlies rests with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working closely in Montana with FWP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the Forest Service and Tribal lands. This collaboration happens through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.