Big Sky Roundup

FWP: Hunter survives attack by grizzly bear near Choteau; bear euthanized

By: - October 12, 2022 5:04 pm

Grizzly bear (Courtesy of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service).

A 51-year-old hunter from Washington state sustained non-life threatening injuries when he was attacked by a grizzly bear on Tuesday afternoon in Teton County, according to a news release Wednesday from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

In the likely surprise encounter, FWP noted the hunter fired at the grizzly with a shotgun and handgun, wounding it and stopping the attack.

Later that afternoon, FWP bear management specialists, game wardens, and Teton County deputies returned to the site and located and euthanized the bear after consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FWP said.

FWP said the hunter and his wife encountered the bear around 1 p.m. while hunting for upland birds in a creek bottom east of Choteau. The bear charged out of thick brush at close range, according to the news release.

In a brief phone call, FWP spokesperson Greg Lemon said the bear was euthanized because it was severely wounded. He said FWP encourages people to carry bear spray but doesn’t discourage people who feel more comfortable carrying a pistol or firearm, and people can kill a grizzly bear in defense of their own lives.

The 677-pound adult male bear had no known previous history of human conflict and had never been handled by bear managers, FWP said. Evidence at the site suggested the attack was the result of a surprise encounter.

To guard against surprise encounters and remain vigilant and safe in bear country, which includes most of the western half of Montana, FWP recommends the following:

  • 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.

For more information and resources on bear safety, visit https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/be-bear-aware.

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