If you’re hunting in a confirmed grizzly bear territory, it’s essential to stay vigilant. Regardless, even those that do sometimes encounter bears when they least suspect them. Last weekend, a hunter was attacked near Columbia Falls, Montana while hunting on private timberland off Trumbull Canyon Road. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MT FWP), the man “was walking off trail in forested timber when he reported turning around as a bear attacked him.”
According to the report, the grizzly bit the hunter’s arms and yanked him by the leg “approximately 7-8 feet” before fleeing. Fortunately, the man’s hunting partner was able to contact authorities and the victim was airlifted to safety.
MFWP’s Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) were on the scene along with Two Bear Air Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and ALERT Air Ambulance. Upon a thorough investigation, which included “on-site visits, victim interviews, evidence collection and analysis,” the agency concluded that a “surprise encounter” was the reason behind the attack and decided not to take any action against the bear.
While Montana certainly has its fair share of grizzly bears and black bears, fall and early winter are when bears are “especially active” before hibernating for the season. Anyone hunting in these areas should review How to Camp Safely in Grizzly Bear Country, Hunting in Grizzly Bear Country: Safety After You Get an Animal Down and Bowhunting in Grizzly Country.
MFWP also has some general tips for staying safe in bear country, which can be found here.