Grizzly attack leaves hunter severely injured near Big Sky

By: - September 11, 2023 5:44 pm

Grizzly bear photographed in Yellowstone National Park on May 19, 2020. (Photo by Jim Peaco/National Park Service)

A grizzly attacked a hunter just outside Big Sky on Friday, leaving them injured enough to need a helicopter transport and leading to trail closures in the area.

According to Gallatin County Search and Rescue, a hunting party called for medical treatment after someone in their party was attacked by a grizzly bear while tracking a deer along the Yellow Mule Trail.

The hunter “shot at and likely wounded the bear,” according to Custer Gallatin National Forest social media post.

First responders transported the patient to a nearby helicopter pad where a Life Flight Network Helicopter took them to Bozeman Health Deaconess Regional Medical Center for further evaluation, as first reported by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Details of the hunter’s current condition have not yet been released.

The incident is being investigated by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Forest Service staff who are trying to find the bear.

The Yellow Mule Trails along with all access to Buck Ridge Trail were closed by United States Forest Service Law Enforcement.

Agencies that assisted in recovery efforts included: Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue volunteers from the Big Sky Section and Heli Team, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Law Enforcement Officers, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, Life Flight Network Helicopter, and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.

“Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer would like to remind hunters that having a plan for contingencies along with being able to call for aid is crucial in the backcountry,” the social media post read.

The attack occurred days following a bear being euthanized after killing a woman in her home in West Yellowstone.

Gov. Greg Gianforte proclaimed September as “Bear Aware Month,” in order to encourage safe recreation in bear country. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is hosting educational events this month across the state and sharing videos featuring bear aware content. The department is hosting a virtual Bear Safety for Hunters Presentation Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Trail closure details from Custer Gallatin National Forest:

The closure includes the area from the Forest boundary along Forest Service Road #2599 (Buck Creek Ridge Road) to its terminus at the Buck Ridge Trailhead. The closure continues westerly along Buck Ridge Trail #10 to where it meets the Custer Gallatin/Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest Boundary. It then follows the Forest boundary northwesterly and northerly to section 16 and continues easterly along the Forest boundary back to Buck Creek Ridge Road (FS Road #2599).

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