Hunters killed 2 grizzlies in Madison Range in October

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Grizzly country

A sign in the Custer Gallatin National Forest warns hunters to be prepared for grizzly bear encounters.

Federal and state wildlife investigators are looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of two grizzly bears killed by hunters in the Madison Range in October.

A grizzly bear was reportedly shot and killed in self-defense on Oct. 25 in Indian Creek, according to a Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks news release. The person involved in the incident left the site and contacted FWP law enforcement officers. No people were injured during the encounter.

FWP staff confirmed the bear mortality and is investigating the incident along with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The USFWS and FWP are also looking into a separate human-caused grizzly bear mortality in the Madison Range that occurred on Oct. 30, but no further information was being released.

Grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and managed by the USFWS. So far this year the agency has tallied 29 known and probable grizzly bear mortalities in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem inside a region known as the Demographic Monitoring Area. Another 19 deaths have been recorded outside the DMA for a total of 48 grizzly bear deaths in 2020.

Of the 29 documented deaths in the DMA, 13 bears were killed by officials after the bears were deemed a nuisance for killing livestock, raiding garbage or residences for food.

Grizzly bear mortalities are tracking above last year when 27 were documented within the Designated Monitoring Area, 19 of which were attributed to human causes. Outside the DMA, 18 deaths were counted in 2019, all of which were human caused. More grizzly bear fatalities were recorded in 2018 when 68 were tabulated.

Based on surveys, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team estimated the population of grizzlies within the Greater Yellowstone DMA last year at 737 bears.

More information can be found on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s website at https://go.usa.gov/xGwAJ.

FWP is warning hunters that although it’s late in the fall and there’s snow on the ground, grizzly bears can still be active. Anyone recreating in the western half of Montana should be prepared to encounter a grizzly bear, the agency said, by carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it;  staying alert and looking for bear activity, especially where visibility and hearing are limited; traveling or hunting in groups and, if possible, avoiding travel at dawn and dusk; making your presence known by making noise. If hunting, make sure to be extra cautious of your surroundings to avoid a surprise encounter.

Hunters and other recreationists should also avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations.

Successful hunters should remove their kill from the field as quickly as possible. If they have to leave part of the carcass overnight, hang it in a tree in a spot where it can be seen from several hundred yards away so as to not surprise a bear upon return.