A pair of anglers spooked a grizzly bear when they stumbled upon it in the Montana wilderness, and it charged them, officials said.
One of the anglers shot and killed the bear, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks said in a Sept. 1 news release.
The anglers were walking through thick vegetation Aug. 30 along a creek on private land in the Tom Miner Basin, about 10 miles north of the western border of Yellowstone National Park, officials said. That’s when they stumbled into the grizzly’s path, and the bear charged.
The adult male grizzly was likely acting defensively in the “surprise, close encounter,” officials said.
Only four days prior, a pair of hunters out scouting for the upcoming hunting season came within 15 feet of a mama grizzly with her cub, about 215 miles northwest in a dense section of the Flathead National Forest, McClatchy News previously reported.
That grizzly also charged, and both hunters shot and killed her. One of the hunters was also shot in the process, officials said.
“Montana is bear country,” officials said in the Sept. 1 release. “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.”
Bears are more active in late summer and autumn as they eat as much as they can to prepare for their winter hibernation — which also overlaps with hunting season and other fall recreation activities, officials said.
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 it. 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.
Hunters and anglers that hunt and fish in areas with grizzlies — including locations west of Billings — 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 and Parks.
Grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, officials said.