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Montana Grizzly Mistakenly Killed During Spring Black Bear Season

April 25, 2008.

From Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:

FWP Wardens investigated the killing of a grizzly bear in the North Fork Flathead Drainage north of Camas Bridge on Sunday April 20. A Whitefish hunter contacted FWP through TIP-MONT stating he may have shot a grizzly bear thinking it was a black bear. Game Wardens Chris Crane, Matt Heaton, and Perry Brown investigated the incident and confirmed the bear was an older adult male grizzly.

The hunter has been cited for shooting a grizzly bear during a closed season. FWP Warden Captain Lee Anderson noted that the hunter did the right thing by reporting his mistake, but hunters bear the responsibility of positively identifying a bear before they attempt to take it.

"I can’t stress enough that hunters need to take their time and properly identify the bear and determine if there are cubs present before pulling the trigger," Anderson said. "Don’t let the excitement and adrenaline cloud your vision. If there is any doubt, don’t shoot."

Anderson pointed out that with this year’s late spring, few black bears are out of their dens. Grizzly bears are out however, and hunters should take extreme caution, or wait for warming weather conditions to go bear hunting.

Wildlife Manager Jim Williams added that the weather/habitat circumstances (deep snow, cool, no green-up) make it very probable that ANY bear out in such conditions has a high probability of being an adult male grizzly.

Hunters are reminded to review the characteristics of black and grizzly bears. Hunters must successfully complete bear ID training before purchasing a black bear license. All black bear hunters are urged to continuously hone their bear identification skills to distinguish a black bear from a grizzly. To take the bear ID training and test, go to the FWP web site at under Education, and click on the Black Bear ID test icon. Paper versions of the training and test are also available.

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