Grizzly bear that attacked hunter will be spared, FWP says

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks won’t hunt down – or take any action against – an adult grizzly bear that attacked a hunter northwest of Columbia Falls, the agency announced Tuesday.

That’s because the attack was prompted by a “surprise encounter,” investigators said after examining the scene of the attack off Trumbull Canyon Road.

The hunter was walking off trail in a forested area when he turned around, saw the bear and was attacked. The grizzly bit the man’s arms, then pulled him 7-8 feet by the leg before fleeing.

The attack happened at about 9:20 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.

The hunter’s partner was not attack and was able to summon help.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) responded, as did Two Bear Air Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and ALERT Air Ambulance.

Two Bear Air airlifted the man to an area where ALERT air ambulance was able to pick him up and deliver him to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

FWP’s team of experts collected evidence at the scene, interviewed the victim, then did the analysis.

In announcing the results Tuesday, FWP officials reminded hunters, hikers and others that northwest Montana is home to robust populations of grizzly and black bears – and that they’re extra active in the fall as they put on the food stores needed to survive winter.

Here are FWP’s most basic tips for staying safe in grizzly bear territory:

Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray.

Stay alert and look for bear activity, especially where visibility and hearing is limited.

Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.

Make your presence known by making noise, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.

Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.

Avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations.

If you harvest an animal at dusk, be prepared to cut up the carcass in the dark by carrying strong headlamps. Be extra vigilant and watch for bears.