In less than two weeks, four hunters have been attacked by grizzly bears in Montana. All four hunters were attacked in the same small stretch of wilderness in the Gravelly Mountains of the Rocky Mountain state.
It’s possible that a single bear is responsible for all of the attacks, although wildlife officials aren’t sure at this point. All of the hunters survived the attacks with moderate to severe injuries and were treated locally.
The fourth bear attack victim was an out-of-state hunter from Ohio. Previously, three Montana hunters were hurt in two separate bear attacks earlier this month on the same day, September 16.
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“Wardens with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Madison County Sherriff’s deputies interviewed the injured hunter, who said he was walking through blow-down timber when he was attacked by a bear from a very close range,” said the department. “During the incident, the man reportedly fired multiple shots at the bear until it left. The man was able to meet up with other members of his hunting party and get medical attention.”
“The Gravelly is an area that they’ve kind of grown into, so [the bears’] geographic distribution is growing and their density within that area is also growing,” said the department’s Morgan Jacobsen to the local news.
The Fish, Wildlife and Parks department is asking outdoors enthusiasts to avoid the Gravelly range as well as the Coral Creek and Twin Springs areas while they conduct an investigation on the local grizzly population.
The bears are considered endangered and are largely protected under the Endangered Species Act.
“As the geographic range of grizzly bears expands in Montana, density within that range is also increasing,” warned the FWP. Management authority for grizzlies rests with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which works closely with FWP. As grizzly populations become more dense and widespread, conflicts with humans will likely increase.”
Bears typically become more active in the months leading up to their hibernation periods while seeking out protein-rich foods. Everyone, not just hunters, should maintain caution during these seasons, and consider traveling with bear deterrents.
The department encourages people to carry bear spray and travel in groups whenever possible, avoid animal carcasses and scavenging birds and follow good food storage regulations.