A hunter in Montana killed a grizzly bear in self-defense last week, officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks report. The hunter was targeting black bears on a remote parcel of private land in the Madison Range backcountry when he was charged by the grizzly. He shot and killed the oncoming grizzly bear with a pistol on June 5 and notified MFWP that same day.
The agency’s investigation is ongoing, and officials have already identified the grizzly as a 15-year-old female that was captured for research purposes in 2013. They say the bear had no known history of conflict with people, and they did not find any cubs in the area.
“The bear’s behavior appeared to be defensive in the surprise, close encounter with the hunter,” officials determined. They added that the bear died outside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear recovery zone, but within the larger demographic monitoring area for Yellowstone grizzlies.
The self-defense killing adds to a growing list of incidents involving dead grizzlies in the northern Rockies in recent months. In addition to the grizzly that was shot and killed in self-defense last week, officials with MFWP, Wyoming Game and Fish, and Idaho Fish and Game have investigated three other grizzly bear killings in the region since early May.
The most recent incident took place in the Idaho Panhandle Friday, when a nonresident hunter shot and killed a grizzly bear that he mistook for a black bear. The hunter alerted the authorities after realizing his mistake and has cooperated with IDFG’s investigation, according to the agency.
A similar case of mistaken identity took place outside Yellowstone National Park in early May, when a dead grizzly with gunshot wounds was found near Wapiti, Wyoming, just 14 miles east of the park boundary. Patrick M. Gogerty of Cody turned himself into WGFD officials on May 2 after photographs of the gunshot bear made national news. Gogerty was charged with a misdemeanor for killing a grizzly bear without a license.
A few weeks later, on May 24, Montana wildlife officials discovered a collared grizzly bear that had been killed off a Forest Service road north of Noxon. They determined that the bear, which “had no history of conflicts,” died from gunshot wounds the week prior. The agency is still investigating the illegal killing, and the shooter could face up to a year in prison along with fines of up to $50,000.
Read Next: Best Bear Defense Handguns of 2023
Looking beyond the northern Rockies, Alaska Wildlife Troopers reported another self-defense killing, this one involving a brown bear, over the weekend. Saturday’s incident involved 34-year-old Nicholas Abraham, who was hunting hares in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge when he was attacked by a brown bear sow with two cubs. Abraham shot and killed the bear with a .44 handgun and then drove himself to a hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.