Federal and state officials are releasing few details on two grizzly bears killed by black bear hunters along the Rocky Mountain Front last week.
The incidents are being primarily investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as grizzly bears are a federally protected species.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks issued a news release Tuesday stating that the grizzlies were killed by black bear hunters west of Great Falls and that federal authorities were investigating. In one incident, a male bear was killed. In the other, the grizzly bear killed was a female and no cubs were found.
Circumstances of the incidents were not available pending results of the investigation, state officials said.
In a response to questions including where the incidents occurred, whether charges have been filed or whether either hunter is claiming self-defense, federal investigators declined to comment.
“USFWS is working closely with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to investigate these incidents,” said Joe Szuszwalak, USFWS spokesman. “Due to the sensitive nature of an ongoing investigation we are unable to release any further information at this time.”
Szuszwalak indicated that more information may be released at a later date.
FWP cautioned that grizzly bears have expanded their range in recent years and that it is the responsibility of black bear hunters to correctly identify the species. Black bear hunters must pass a bear identification test in order to hunt bears in Montana.
Reporter Tom Kuglin can be reached at 447-4076 @IR_TomKuglin