Authorities near Cooke City, Montana are continuing to investigate an incident in which a hunter accidentally shot his companion in the middle of his struggle with an attacking grizzly bear on Saturday.
Both hunters survived the bizarre incident. The boar grizzly, estimated to be more than 20 years old, was not as fortunate.
Officials with the Montana Fish Wildlife and Park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have not released the names of the hunters involved, but said they discovered no negligence and the shooting is officially ruled as accidental.
A joint investigation conducted by the Park County Sheriff’s Department determined that the two hunters were tracking what they believed to be a black bear near Cooke City at around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Upon entering a thicket of very dense, 6-to-8-foot second-generation pine their quarry–which turned out to be a grizzly–jumped one of the hunters.
“He was yelling at his partner to shoot the bear,” Park County Sheriff Allan Lutes told the Powell (Wyo.) Tribune.
The newspaper reported that the first shot (from an unspecified gun and caliber) struck the hunter in the arm. Follow-up shots proved fatal to the bear.
The sheriff reiterated that the shooting was accidental and the incident was the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Simply, said the sheriff, they never saw it coming
“Bam! There he was. I don’t think they had a heads-up the bear was that close,” said Sheriff Lutes.