Two grizzly bears were killed by elk hunters acting in self defense last week in separate incidents near Yellowstone National Park.
According to information released by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, both hunters were unharmed in the incidents.
A lone female grizzly bear reportedly surprised a man hunting elk at Big Creek north of Gardiner, Mont. on Oct. 28. The hunter reported to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that he came upon the bear while it was feeding on a carcass in the brush, and that the bear charged him. The hunter said he first used bear spray to deter the attack, then shot the bear in self defense.
The second incident was reported on Oct. 31 by a group of elk hunters who said they came upon and surprised a female grizzly bear with two young bears at Johnson Lake, near West Yellowstone, Mont. The hunters said they first used bear spray on the charging bear but, as the bear continued to approach, they reportedly shot the bear in self defense.
In each case, the hunters were able to return to their vehicles unharmed and report the incident. Game wardens responded and confirmed the animals were killed. Officials said no attempts will be made to pursue the young bears from the Johnson Lake area due to the remote and rugged terrain there.
While it’s legal to shoot an animal in defense of human life, the law requires such incidents be reported to wildlife officials.
Montana wildlife officials said that was done in both cases, but because the grizzly bear is a federally protected species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials will further investigate the incidents.
Montana FWP urges hunters throughout Montana to be aware that bears are still active despite cooler weather, and to always be prepared for an encounter. Hunters should carry bear pepper spray and know how to use it.