A grizzly bear attacked and killed a hunter in northwest Montana near the Idaho border


Grizzly bear kills hunter in Montana

Laura Zuckerman

Reuters US Online Report Domestic News

Sep 16, 2011 22:06 EDT

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – A grizzly bear attacked and killed a hunter in northwest Montana near the Idaho border on Friday, and was then itself shot and killed by the dead man’s hunting partner, authorities said.

Few details were available early Friday evening about the incident, which Montana wildlife officials said was the first fatal grizzly mauling of a hunter in the state in a decade.

Law enforcement officials from Montana and Idaho as well as the U.S. Forest Service had secured the site by late afternoon but had yet to identify the victim, said Jean Holder, dispatcher with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in Montana.

“It’s absolutely unusual. It’s a horrible tragedy,” said Ron Aasheim, the spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The last fatal bear attack in Montana involving a hunter happened in 2001, when a grizzly mauled and killed a man dressing out an elk.

Officials with the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho said they received a report mid-morning that a hunter had died of wounds sustained in a grizzly attack. They said the bear was shot and killed by the victim’s hunting partner.

The men were believed to be hunting black bears in the rugged Purcell Mountains where Idaho and Montana border British Columbia. The area is home to a struggling population of 40 grizzly bears, which are listed as threatened in the Lower 48 states under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Gregg Losinski, member of a federal and state task force on grizzly bears, said that, until recently, fatal grizzly attacks on humans averaged about one every two years in the Lower 48.

While the overall number of attacks is lower so far this year compared to 2010, the number of deadly encounters is up, government figures show.

In July, a female grizzly in Yellowstone National Park killed a hiker it perceived as a threat to its two cubs. And Yellowstone rangers last month said a grizzly was behind the death of a hiker found dead on one of the park’s backcountry trails.

Losinski said those high-profile cases lead people to incorrectly conclude that deadly bear encounters are common.

“People think bears are out there attacking people left and right but bears killing people is actually a rare event,” he said.

Grizzly bears are now in a seasonal race to bulk up before hibernation, a period where the bears are engaged in an intense search for food, said Losinski.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor)

Source: Reuters US Online Report Domestic News

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