Counting bears

Counting grizzly bears is no easy task. Tactics like gathering DNA samples from hair left on barbed wire are accurate, but expensive. Now scientists have studied a new method using remote cameras as a less-intrusive, less-expensive yet still accurate means to estimate populations.

Jim Peaco, YNP

A hunter shot and killed a grizzly bear Saturday near Pendroy, according Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 

A 69-year-old man was pheasant hunting with a bird dog on a farm about two miles southeast of Pendroy along the Rocky Mountain Front. 

A female grizzly was in willows with three cubs along an irrigation canal when it charged the hunter's dog. The man yelled at the bear, and it turned and charged him. 

The man shot once in the air with a 12-gauge shotgun, according to a release from FWP, but the bear continued to charge. The man then shot the bear twice — once in the chest and once in the face. The bear was about 10 feet from the hunter for the final shot. 

The bear returned to the willows, where the cubs had stayed. Sunday morning, FWP officials found the bear dead in the willow patch. The cubs were gone. 

The sow was 9 years old and weighed about 500 pounds. 

FWP warned that hunters need to be aware of bears near mountainous areas, especially in areas near water. The agency recommends hunters carry bear spray, which statistically offers better protection from charging bears than a firearm. 

In Montana, bear country can be anywhere in the western half of the state and beyond. This year grizzly bears have shown up in places they haven’t been for decades, maybe even more than a century — Highwood and Big Belt Mountains for instance.

In recent years, when grizzlies have wandered out onto the prairie away from the Rocky Mountain Front, they've followed streams and river bottoms, including the Sun, Teton and Marias rivers.

In October, grizzly tracks were found on a ranch east of Cody.