Montana officials seek information on dead grizzly; hikers shoot Wyoming bear in self defense

With grizzly bear protections and hunting in the news of late in grizzly country in the Lower 48, two recent bear deaths are making headlines in Montana and Wyoming.

In Montana, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department are seeking information on the shooting death of a sub-adult male grizzly bear found dead in the Kootenai Forest, north of Libby in northwestern Montana.

Officials retrieved the carcass off on Forest Road 4859 on Sunday, May 28, according to a Fish, Wildlife & Parks news release Monday, June 4, adding that investigators believe the grizzly was killed along the road on the evening of Sunday, May 20.

The USFWS and FWP are asking for anyone with possible information on this case, or anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the Barron/Bristow Creek area, to call the Service Special Agent at 406-329-3000 or 1-800-TIP-MONT. Callers are not required to identify themselves and a reward of up to $2,000 may be available for information leading to a conviction.

In Wyoming, the state Game and Fish Department is investigating the shooting death of a grizzly bear sow, reportedly shot last week in self-defense by a party of three hikers on the fringes of the Wind River Range, north of the town of Pinedale.

It marked the second time in recent weeks that a female grizzly with cubs was killed in Wyoming. Thursday’s incident left two cubs orphaned.

Last week’s killing came just days after the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission announced it will allow grizzly hunting for the first time since 1974 this fall outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The draft quota is 11 bears with a very conservative one bear female sub-quota, according to the Commission. It has not been announced if the recent deaths – or the deaths of at least 11 grizzlies in the Yellowstone region in 2018, according to reports – will count against quotas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections for grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in 2017, when jurisdiction was turned over to Wyoming and Montana as well as Idaho. Montana has not yet allowed grizzly hunting. Idaho will allow one grizzly to be hunted this fall.

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