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Grizzly killed in self-defense in Whitefish Range

Hagadone News Network | August 29, 2023 12:00 AM

A grizzly bear was killed in self-defense Aug. 26 in the Whitefish Range north of Whitefish.

A pair of men from Whitefish were scouting for hunting season around the Smokey Range Trailhead off Canyon Creek Road on the Flathead National Forest when they stumbled upon an adult bear and a cub in a thick section of forest, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The two men surprised the bears that were less than 15 feet away. When the adult bear charged, both men shot and killed the bear. One of the men was shot in the back shoulder during the incident and was taken to the hospital and treated for his wound, the report says.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens and members of the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team responded and investigated the incident, finding that the bear’s behavior appeared to be defensive. The encounter was a surprise.

The state wildlife agency shared initial findings with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement and they concurred that the incident was a matter of self-defense. The grizzly had no history of conflict and was previously tagged for population monitoring work in 2009.

The bear was approximately 25 years old and the state agency continues to monitor the area for the cub.

This is the latest death of a male grizzly bear this year in Montana. In May, a grizzly was found dead in Sanders County from a gunshot wound. The incident happened in the South Fork of the Bull River area near Berray Mountain off Forest Road 2272 (Berray Mountain Road).

FWP encourages people to be bear aware by carrying bear spray, traveling in groups, staying away from animal carcasses and following food storage guidelines are beneficial tactics, the wildlife agency said.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at or 758-4459.

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