A hunter has been shot by his companion while attempting to kill a grizzly bear that had charged at them.
While hunting Smokey Range Trailhead off Canyon Creek Road in Whitefish, Montana, the two men came across a female grizzly bear with a cub, a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported.
The hunters unintentionally took the bear by surprise when they entered a dense section of the forest and the startled sow charged at them in an attempt to protect her cub.
As she charged, the men shot at the bear, and brought her down. However, in doing so, one of the men accidentally shot his companion in the shoulder.
Grizzly bears are notorious for being extremely territorial and defensive of their young. There are over 2,000 grizzly bears living in Montana. They are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, meaning it is illegal to harm them on purpose.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigated the incident and determined the sow had acted purely out of defense for herself and her cub after being startled by the two hunters.
They also decided that the men killed the bear out of self defense.
During the investigation, wildlife officials found that the bear had been 25 years old and had no previous encounters or conflicts with humans—investigations are still ongoing as officials scout the area for the cub.
It is not certain how old the cub is, but bear cubs hugely rely on their mother for the first two years or so of their lives.
Mother bears usually stay with their cubs for 16 to 17 months after birth, but their family bond remains strong after this.
Bears do not usually attack humans unless they are directly provoked or startled. Those most likely to charge at a human are usually mothers who are looking after their cubs.
For this reason, it is wise to take precautions when in areas with a bear population.
“Montana is bear country,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a press release. “Avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with conflicts.”
The department advises carrying bear spray to deter the animals, as well as making regular noises, to alert bears to your presence. This way, it becomes less likely that a bear will be taken by surprise.
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This article by Robyn White was first published by Newsweek on 30 August 2023. Lead Image: A stock photo shows a grizzly bear baring its teeth. Two hunters killed a female bear after she charged at them. JNEVITT/GETTY.