Shed Hunter Kills Charging Grizzly with a Handgun in Montana

by Tommy Grant

A Montana man was hunting for shed antlers near Wolf Creek on April 25 when a grizzly bear charged him. The man drew his handgun and shot the bear mid-charge, killing it, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The man’s identity remains unknown, as the incident is still under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He was not injured during the encounter and was not carrying bear spray at the time.

MFWP says the man was shed hunting on private land and walking along a snow-covered ridge with the wind at his back when he first saw grizzly bear tracks in the snow. He had two dogs with him. He continued walking and, a few minutes later, saw the bear standing roughly 20 yards away near the top of the ridge.

“The bear dropped to all four legs and charged the man, who drew his handgun and fired five shots from distance about 30 feet to 10 feet, grazing the bear with one shot and hitting and killing it with another,” MFWP reports.

During their initial investigation, state wildlife officials inspected the grizzly, an adult female that weighed roughly 300 pounds and was estimated to be around 12 years old. They also found a single cub nearby, which was captured and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena.

The area where the incident took place falls within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which is one of six grizzly bear recovery zones in the Lower 48 designated by the USFWS. The NCDE covers roughly 9,600 square miles in north-central Montana and is home to more than 1,000 grizzlies, according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Read Next: Are Grizzly Attacks Really on the Rise?

This is the first known instance of a grizzly bear being killed in self-defense in the Lower 48 in 2024. It comes at a time when bears across the Western U.S. are starting to leave their winter dens, some of them with cubs in tow.

Last year, there were at least seven recorded incidents in Montana and Idaho involving hunters and anglers who killed grizzly bears in self-defense. One of the earliest incidents of 2023 took place in early June, when a black bear hunter was charged by a grizzly bear in the Madison Range southeast of Ennis. The hunter shot and killed the bear with a handgun.

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