Grizzlies, Grizzlies, Grizzlies
By Todd Helms
It seems like we could dedicate a blog a week to G-Bears, especially right now as the annual uptick in grizzly/human altercations has begun. So here’s a rundown on what’s been happening in the grizzly bear confrontation arena so far this fall. There’s one thing that’s for sure, this is just the unfortunate beginning.
Montana has racked up the most incidents thus far with two out of three ending in a bear fatality.
A pair of outdoorsmen shot and killed a charging grizz at close range in Paradise Valley back in late August. Self defense was claimed and the case is under investigation. The men were adjacent to thick cover and surprised the bear.
Another August encounter resulted in the shooting death of a charging grizzly in northwest Montana again at close range in thick cover.
Last week Montana officials shot and killed a grizzly sow who had broken into a home outside of West Yellowstone, MT. DNA tests confirmed the bear to be the culprit of this summer’s deadly encounter with a trail runner in the same general area. Again, likely a surprise encounter that tragically ended in a human fatality.
Most recently, last Saturday to be exact, a Montana deer hunter was severely mauled by a grizzly bear outside of Big Sky, Montana while hunting. This man was life flighted to a Bozeman hospital for life threatening injuries. Little is known surrounding the circumstances of the attack but the man was able to get a shot off at the bear resulting in a closure of the area and search for a possibly wounded grizz. The search has been called off due to a lack of evidence of the wounding of a bear.
Phew. . . unfortunately that’s a lot of conflict in a short amount of time and I pray that the folks involved recover quickly and fully. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the slain woman trail runner from earlier this summer.
On the heels of all this comes a recommendation by the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce urging officials to proceed with delisting efforts for grizzly bears in the state of Wyoming. The Taskforce cites grizz numbers above and beyond federal recovery criteria and the fact that Wyoming has a solid management plan for the big bears. I say it’s past time!
However, with ever moving goal posts, state wildlife managers and those of us living in G-bear country will likely not see a delisting anytime soon. It’s a noble goal but seemingly unpopular on a national level due to misinformation and animal rights agendas. I digress. . .
Staying safe this fall in bear country (especially grizzly bear) can be aided by adhering to the following protocols.
- Try to keep from surprising grizzly bears (hard to do while hunting).
- Stay clear of thick cover whenever possible.
- Don’t hunt grizzly country alone.
- Have a communication device like a SPOT or Garmin inReach on your person.
- Carry bear spray AND a firearm and be proficient with each.
- Don’t get complacent – about the time you let your guard down you’ll have an encounter.