HELENA - A man mauled by a 185-pound black bear in the Bob Marshall Wilderness told authorities that the bruin jumped on his tent, tore through the fabric and attacked him until he stopped the animal with pepper spray, wildlife officials said Monday.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigators called the attack predatory in nature — an unusual occurrence that prompted them to shoot and kill the bear Friday afternoon about 70 yards from the campsite.
"There was no question of whether that was the right decision. It was obviously a very dangerous animal," Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman John Fraley said.
A necropsy found items in the bear's stomach that were consistent with food at the camp including plastic bags, dried pasta and other food items. Fraley said investigators did not know how the bear got the food.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigator Brian Sommers said blood on the 5-year-old bear's claws has been swabbed and will be tested to confirm a tie to the victim, who was mauled at about 7:30 a.m. Friday.
The unidentified man was recovering from scratches and other wounds at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. Hospital administrators said Monday that he was doing well and did not want to talk to the media.
Initial results of the investigation showed nothing unusual physically about the bear that might explain its behavior, Fraley said.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Wade Muehlhof said an agency employee was hiking in the remote Black Bear Creek area when he came upon the bear at the victim's campsite. Muehlhof said the employee chased away the bear, then found the victim nearby and radioed his supervisors who arranged for a helicopter to evacuate the man to the hospital.