Reward offered for information about dead grizzly found in Montana

Great Falls, Mont. (AP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is
offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of
whoever illegally shot and killed what officials say was one of
Montana’s largest grizzly bears.

The carcass of the big grizzly – called Maximus because he stood
7 1/2 feet tall and weighed about 800 pounds – was found Aug. 12 on
a ranch west of Dupuyer. The bear had been dead about a month.

Special Agent Brian Lakes said Friday that he didn’t know the
exact size of the reward but it would be “substantial.”

“We are following up on some leads at this time,” Lakes told the
Great Falls Tribune.

In 2007, the 9 1/2-year-old bear, officially identified by
authorities as No. 4273, was captured accidentally by the Montana
Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. At the time, the
department had set out to catch females for a study.

Maximus then weighed 765 pounds and was the second largest bear
managers had ever captured in the state, said Mike Madel, a grizzly
bear management specialist with the department.

A remote camera snapped a picture of the same bear in the fall
of 2008, and Madel said it looked as if the bear had grown to more
than 800 pounds. He said the bear likely weighed more than 800
pounds at the time it was killed.

Typically, he said, male bears in the region average around 600
pounds.

The bear that was killed didn’t have a history of feeding on
livestock or having run-ins with people, said Madel, and was shot
outside of black bear hunting season. Hunters sometimes mistake
grizzlies for black bears.

Lakes said he is also investigating two other illegal shootings
of grizzly bears.

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