Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ investigation into a surprise bear attack last weekend northwest of Columbia Falls has confirmed that an adult grizzly bear was involved in the encounter.
At approximately 9:20 a.m., Nov. 11, an adult male was hunting with a partner on private timberland off Trumbull Canyon Road. The individual was walking off trail in forested timber when he reported turning around as a bear attacked him. The bear bit both of the victim’s arms and pulled the individual by the leg approximately 7-8 feet before letting go and fleeing the scene. The victim’s hunting partner contacted authorities.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) responded along with Two Bear Air Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and ALERT Air Ambulance.
Two Bear Air transported the victim to a location where ALERT Air Ambulance picked him up and transported him to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
The FWP WHART investigation included on-site visits, victim interviews, evidence collection and analysis. The investigation has identified the animal as a grizzly bear. A “surprise encounter” prompted the attack, according to WHART investigators. No action will be taken against the bear.
Northwest Montana is bear country with populations of grizzlies and black bears. Bears are especially active in fall and early winter before denning season. Recreationists are urged to be “Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts.
General tips to stay safe in bear country:
- Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray.
- Stay alert and look for bear activity, especially where visibility and hearing is limited.
- Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
- Make your presence known by making noise, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
- Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.
- Avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations
- If you harvest an animal at dusk, be prepared to cut up the carcass in the dark by carrying strong headlamps. Be extra vigilant and watch for bears.
For more information about staying safe in bear country, visit fwp.mt.gov.