A bear killed a person camped near the town of Ovando (75 miles northwest of Helena) around 3:30 a.m Tuesday, according to a report from ABC News.
Montana officials are searching for the bear that attacked a person, who has yet to be identified, at a campground near the sprawling Bob Marshall Wilderness, close to the Blackfoot River. This is the second fatal bear attack in Montana in the last four months. In April, guide Carl Mock was killed by a grizzly in Yellowstone National Park while fishing.
“We have not positively identified the bear, and can’t say if it was a grizzly,” said Gavin Roselles, Sheriff of Powell County.
Ovando is a popular stop for bicyclists traveling Highway 200 across the Continental Divide. At least one organized group of bikers camped at the site over the July 4th weekend, but it’s not known if this person was part of that group.
Roselles said the bear wandered into the campsite a couple different times and may have had contact with other campers before the attack.
Campers at the site called 9-1-1 and members of the Ovando and Helmville emergency-response teams tried to save the victim, Roselles said. Someone at the scene used bear spray, but the bruin left before rescuers arrived.
According to Montana Department of Wildlife spokesman Greg Lemon, a bear was recorded on Ovando-area video cameras Monday night and is suspected of raiding a chicken coop in town the same night the person was killed.
“We have not had much grizzly conflict in Ovando so far this year,” Lemon said. “In the past, we’ve had bears come into town. A few years ago we had two subadult bears that caused problems. It’s not out of the ordinary to have a bear in the Ovando area.”
There is a team in place trying to track down and kill the bear, which was reported to have left Ovando after the mauling. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, but can be trapped or killed if they attack a human and it results in a fatality. In the last 10 years there have been and increasing amount of grizzly-human encounters in the northern Rocky Mountains, which has caused some legislators in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana to call for a delisting of the species.