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Hunters injured in grizzly mauling near Whitefish
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Hunters injured in grizzly mauling near Whitefish

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Grizzly bear

Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed two bills reshaping the state’s response to managing grizzly bears.

On the morning of Oct. 31, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 1 Wildlife Human Attack Response Team responded to a bear attack on timberland near Smith Lake north of Whitefish Lake.

FWP received a report of a father and son from the Flathead Valley hunting along a gated road when a grizzly bear charged out of a thick, wooded area along the road at very close range. The two sustained significant injuries before they were able to shoot and kill the bear.

The ALERT Air Ambulance transported the individuals to Kalispell Regional Medical Center for treatment.

The incident occurred in the King Creek drainage along Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation land and private timberland.

The response team discovered a deer carcass cached in the thick timber along the edge of the road adjacent to where the attack occurred.

FWP inspected the dead bear and identified it as an adult female estimated to be nearly 20 years old. It did not have any history of conflicts.

It is believed to have at least one offspring at the time of the incident. FWP set up cameras in the area to help identify the potential offspring but no management action is planned at this time. There are no formal closures in the area.

“Based on the evidence gathered at the scene and interviews with the victims, we believe this was a surprise encounter involving an adult female grizzly bear defending a food source and her offspring,” FWP Regional Game Warden Capt. Lee Anderson said.

Bears are increasingly active and seeking food in the fall months before denning season, FWP said. They typically den for the winter beginning in late November.

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