A grizzly bear attacked father and son during a hunting trip in Montana and injured them badly before they shot and killed him. Wildlife officials believe that the bear was defending her cub and food when the couple surprised them and encouraged the attack.
A statement from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Park (FWP) said that the father and son were hunting along a guarded road at the time of the attack. It stated that the bear “attacked at close range from a dense, wooded area along the road.
“The two people suffered serious injuries before they were able to shoot and kill the bear,” the statement said on October 31.
They were transported to the hospital in an air ambulance. Details of their current condition were not disclosed.
The attack took place in a forest area near Smith Lake, north of Whitefish Lake. The FWP initiated an investigation into the incident and found a deer carcass nearby. “Based on the evidence gathered at the crime scene and interviews with the victims, we believe it was a surprise encounter in which an adult grizzly bear defended a food source and its offspring,” said FWP Regional Gamekeeper Captain Lee Anderson.
Montana is home to populations of black and grizzly bears. It is estimated that between 500 and 600 grizzlies live in northwest Montana. The species tends to hibernate around November, with the months before that known as the Denning Season. At this time they are very active in foraging.
FWP said the bear is estimated to be 20 years old and has no history of conflict. The bear had at least one cub when it was killed, and cameras were set up to identify the cub. “No management measures are currently planned,” the statement said.
Although bear attacks on humans are rare, there have been at least three other attacks in this state in recent months. In June, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist was attacked during a research trip to Centennial Valley. He suffered “severe bite wounds” after encountering two grizzlies. The following month, 50-year-old Shannun Rammell was attacked in an abandoned barn. It is suspected that the animal was attracted by grain residues. In September, a 69-year-old hunter suffered shoulder and hip injuries after being attacked by a bear with cubs.
The FWP stated in a statement issued in October that it had received “numerous reports” of bear activity in the region. The statement said that the animals were increasingly active in the fall and that most reports concerned bears in search of food. Anyone who encounters a bear should stay at least 100 meters away from it and make loud noises to try to “hide” the wildlife.