Bozeman, MT — A man was mauled by a grizzly bear Tuesday while hunting in the western Gravelly Mountains.
The hunter, who was from Ohio, survived the encounter and was treated at the Ruby Valley Medical Center in Sheridan.
Tuesday’s attack happened between the Coal Creek Drainage and the Eureka Basin Road, about eight miles south of where three other hunters were injured last week in two separate grizzly bear attacks. The hunter was aware of grizzly bears in the Gravelly Mountains and was prepared to defend himself during an attack.
Wardens with Montana Fish, Wildlife & 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. 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.
FWP wardens and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement were able to begin their investigation quickly as they were already in the Gravelly Mountains on Tuesday concluding their investigation into the attacks that happened last week. They notified other hunters and campers in the area of the most recent attack and conducted an initial search for a bear in connection with that incident. That search will continue this week.
Further details are still unclear as the investigation remains active. More information will be provided as it becomes available. FWP wardens are requesting that people stay out of the Coal Creek and Twin Springs area while the investigation continues.
Grizzly bears are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. As the geographic range of grizzly bears expands in Montana, density within that range is also increasing. 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 are especially active during the fall months as they seek protein and calorie-rich foods in preparation for hibernation. This is also when many hunters are in the field. Grizzly bear attacks on humans are most common in surprise close encounters.
FWP reminds all recreationists to be cautious when in bear country. Some recommended practices for avoiding negative encounters with bears include:
Be prepared and aware of your surroundings.
Carry and know how to use bear spray.
Travel in groups whenever possible.
Stay away from animal carcasses.
Follow U.S. Forest Service food storage regulations.
If you encounter a bear, stop. Back away slowly and leave the area.
For more information on bear safety, visit fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware. For more information on grizzly bear management in Montana, visit igbconline.org.