ENNIS – Two people were injured Tuesday in an encounter with a grizzly bear southeast of Ennis.
Around 8:30 p.m., two men were hiking with a dog off trail in the Bear Creek area when they encountered a sow grizzly bear with cubs at close range. During the encounter, the two hikers were injured by the bear. However, they were able to use bear spray to defend themselves. Fortunately, both hikers were able to leave the attack site without assistance and received treatment for relatively minor injuries.
Sows with cubs can be especially defensive in close encounters with people. It’s likely this attack was defensive in nature.
A game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks investigated the scene of the attack on Wednesday with law enforcement staff from the U.S. Forest Service. The trail nearest the incident has been closed and signed temporarily as a precaution. Other trails in this area have also been signed, advising visitors of the incident. No further management action is planned at this time.
Recreationists, residents and people who work outdoors can be prepared for a surprise bear encounter. Activities that are deliberately quiet or fast moving, such as hunting, mountain biking or trail running, put people at greater risk for surprising a bear. When you’re spending time in Montana’s outdoors, keep these precautions in mind:
Be aware of your surroundings and look for bear sign.
Read signs at trailheads and stay on trails. Be especially careful around creeks and in areas with dense brush.
Carry bear spray. Know how to use it and be prepared to deploy it immediately.
Travel in groups whenever possible and make casual noise, which can help alert bears to your presence.
Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Leave the area when it is safe to do so.
Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Management authority for grizzlies rests with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working closely in Montana with FWP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the Forest Service and Tribal lands. This collaboration happens through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.