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Hunter ignores fresh grizzly track and faces angry mother bear, Montana officials say

A man hunting for shed antlers ignored a fresh grizzly track in grizzly country — and surprised a mother bear, Montana officials said. | Photo by Felicia Montenegro via Unsplash at Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – A man hunting for shed antlers in grizzly country went against several bear safety best practices — and came face to face with a charging mother bear, officials said.
The hunter and his two dogs surprised the bear on Thursday, April 25, while walking along a ridge on private land northwest of Wolf Creek, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks said in a May 3 news release. Wolf Creek is an unincorporated community about a 35-mile drive north from Helena.
The ridge was covered with low trees and brush that might have obscured both his and the grizzly’s sight, plus he walked with the wind at his back, officials said.
He noticed a fresh grizzly track in a patch of snow — and kept going, officials said.
Minutes later, he stumbled upon the bear standing near the top of the ridge about 20 yards away from him, officials said. “The bear dropped to all four legs and charged,” according to the release.
The man did not have bear spray, officials said. He pulled out a gun and fired five shots while the bear was between 30 and 10 feet away from him. One shot initially grazed the bear but another hit and killed her, according to the release.
He was not hurt, officials said.
The adult female bear had been in good physical condition, estimated to weigh around 300 pounds at about 12 years old, officials said.
And she’d had a single cub that was nearby during the encounter, officials said.
Bear management specialists with the department later captured the cub and took it to FWP’s wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena, officials said. The department is hoping to place the cub at an accredited zoo.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife service is investigating the incident, officials said.
“Montana is bear country,” officials said in previous news releases. “Grizzly bear populations continue to become denser and more widespread in Montana, increasing the likelihood that residents and recreationists will encounter them in more places each year.”
To avoid negative bear encounters, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks experts advise people outdoors in bear country to:

Carry bear spray, and have it out and ready to use at the first sight of a bear.
Travel in groups, and make a lot of noise to alert bears to your presence.
Stay far away from animal carcasses that attract bears.
Mind food storage orders from local land management agencies.
Never approach any bear you encounter, and leave the area when it’s safe. Keep garbage, bird feeders, pet food and other smelly items that attract bears in a secure building where bears can’t access them.
Keep garbage locked away until the day it’s collected, or use certified bear-resistant garbage containers.
Don’t feed wildlife — ever. It’s illegal to feed bears in Montana. Bears that become conditioned to human food lose their instinctual foraging behavior and become a threat to people’s safety.

People who hunt and fish in areas with grizzlies should take extra precautions, such as:

Be extra cautious around creeks and areas with “limited visibility,” such as dense forests and areas with thick vegetation. Be mindful of bear signs.
Hunt or fish with a group of people and make “localized” noise to avoid sneaking up on bears.
Keep in mind that elk calls and “cover scents” — which cut down on the smell of humans — can attract bears.
Bring the right equipment and the proper amount of people you’ll need to be able to field dress successfully hunted game and remove the meat from the area as quickly as possible.
Hang any meat you have to leave behind at least 10 feet off the ground and 150 yards from the gut pile. Make sure it’s viewable from at least 200 yards away.
When you come back for the remaining meat, examine it for any signs of disturbance using binoculars. If it has been touched or if a bear is in the area, leave and call Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, officials said.
The post Hunter ignores fresh grizzly track and faces angry mother bear, Montana officials say appeared first on East Idaho News.

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