A biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was recently the victim of a grizzly bear attack in SW Montana.
The attack occurred on the morning of June 24th in the Centennial Valley about a mile west of Elk Lake. The biologist was working on a project monitoring sage grouse in the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The person sustained several serious bite wounds but is expected to recover.
According to the account, the biologist heard a noise in the sagebrush that turned out to be two grizzly bears in close proximity, approximately 80 to 100 yards away. After standing up on its hind legs, one of the bears charged at the biologist. The individual deployed bear spray, but the grizzly was not deterred from making contact. Eventually, the two bears ran away.
Following the attack, the biologist was able to report the situation to other USFWS staff. The contacted staff assisted the individual in getting medical attention in Rexburg, Idaho the same day. The victim was released later that day.
Moreover, the biologist’s report suggests that the two bears may have been younger siblings, estimated around 3 years old. The investigation of the attack continues from a joint effort between Idaho Fish & Game and Montana FWP.
This news comes only weeks after another man in Big Sky, Montana was attacked by a grizzly while riding his bike near Ousel falls. This year, seven people have been injured by bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem alone.
As grizzly bear populations continue to increase, the likelihood of human and bear encounters increases. Most bear attacks on people result from the person surprising the bear in close proximity. Those living or recreating in bear county should take the proper precautions.
Currently, grizzly bears in the lower 48 are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established this act in 1975 in response to declining bear populations. Recovery efforts have been underway since the act was established. After decades of hard work, grizzly populations have not only reached, but surpassed the federal recovery goals.