On September 24, 2017 at approximately 9:00 AM, a father, and adult son were hunting black bears on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir near the Dry Park area. They were hunting on steep slopes and in thick vegetation. They were pursuing a black bear they had observed when they encountered the grizzly bear. The bear charged at them and attacked the son. They saw the brush moving 25 to 30 yards away, but did not see the bear until it was about 12 feet away. The bear grabbed the son’s right arm, at the elbow, and while the bear had a hold of the arm the father shot the bear in an attempt to get the bear off of his son. The bear released, and the father shot again. The father shot the bear one more time, at very close range, as the bear turned toward him.
The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) responded to the scene on September 24. The team located the attack site, which was in thick dense brushy vegetation, and were assisted by Two Bear Air in trying to locate the bear. On September 25, the team returned to the attack site area to continue the investigation. According to FWP Investigator Brian Sommers, the team located the dead female grizzly bear in the area near the attack site. The bear was approximately 12 years old, 250 pounds and in good condition. This was an unmarked bear with no known management history. Even though no young bears were visible, Sommers stated that the bear’s behavior prior to the attack was indicative of a defense of young attack and the bear was attempting to reduce the potential threat to her young. Based on our examination, and her physical condition, she was not a lactating female and was likely accompanied by at least one yearling(s), which would be weaned and capable of surviving on their own.
Neither individual was carrying bear spray and FWP would like to remind hunters and recreationists that carrying bear spray is another deterrent option; and bears this time of year are actively feeding in preparation for winter, which can lead to more encounters with bears.