BUTTE — A hunter shot a grizzly bear in self-defense in Eureka Basin in the south Gravelly Mountains Saturday, according to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Morgan Jacobsen, FWP information and education program manager for Region 3, said he could not release the name of the hunter because the hunter requested privacy.
The hunter was not injured. The hunter reported the incident the same day, according to FWP.
Jacobsen said FWP is investigating the issue along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Grizzly bears are threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The two agencies are also looking into two grizzly bear deaths caused by humans that happened last week in the West Yellowstone area.
There have been repeated reports of grizzly bear activities in the Gravelly Mountains this fall. Three hunters were attacked in two separate incidents in the western Gravellies in September. The U.S. Forest Service shut down several trails in the Teepee Creek and Lobo Mesa areas of the Gravellies due to a high number of grizzly bears in August.
The U.S. Forest Service reopened the trails last month, said Leona Roderick, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest spokesperson.
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Jacobsen said Saturday’s grizzly bear encounter was several miles south of where the trail closure was and south of the bear attacks last month.
“This illustrates the Gravelly are very much occupied grizzly habitat and a lot of bear activity is happening there,” Jacobsen said.
FWP says grizzly bears have expanded their range into western and central Montana and can remain active through December. Some will roam for brief periods during winter months.
As bears prepare for hibernation, hunter activity — such as wearing animal scents, elk bugling, processing animal carcasses and moving quietly in the forest — can increase the likelihood of bear encounters.
Some grizzlies have learned to associate gunshots with a gut pile or animal carcass. FWP advises getting a harvest home as quickly as possible, and if multiple trips need to be made to pack out the animal, leave the carcass at least 200 yards from the gut pile.
If attacked by a bear, people are advised to use bear spray. Don't run. Lie face down, cover your neck and head with your hands and arms until the bear is gone. Don't play dead if encountering an intent, calm or curious bear.