Bird hunter survives attack from nearly 700-pound grizzly
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A nearly 700-pound grizzly bear charged out of thick brush southeast of Glacier National Park, attacking and injuring a bird hunter before the man shot the animal, Montana wildlife officials said Wednesday.
The 51-year-old Washington state man, whose name and hometown were not released, was left with injuries that were not life-threatening after the encounter Oct. 16 in a creek bottom east of the town of Choteau, said officials with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The man and his wife were hunting on private property when their dogs went on point, said Dave Hagengruber, spokesperson for the state wildlife department. He went to flush a bird when the 677-pound male bear charged out of the brush, knocked the man over and stepped on him, Hagengruber said.
The man fired at the bear with a shotgun and a handgun, wounding the animal, which returned to the cover of the thick brush, wildlife officials said.
The couple and their dogs left and notified authorities.
Grizzly bears are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, but state and federal wildlife officials decided the bear had to be euthanized because of its injuries. A drone was used to locate the bear, Hagengruber said.
The man did not suffer claw or bite marks, but did spend the night in the hospital, Hagengruber said.
The bear had no known previous history of human conflict and had never been handled by bear managers, officials said. Evidence at the site suggested the attack was the result of a surprise encounter.
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks urged bird hunters to exercise caution in and around Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area south of Ronan after the grizzly encounter.