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Montana men kill mother grizzly bear in ‘self-defense encounter’

Two men shot a mother grizzly bear in Montana in a “self-defense encounter” over the weekend, officials announced Monday.

The incident occurred Saturday when the men were scouting for bear-hunting season in the Flathead National Forest near the Whitefish Mountain Resort recreation area, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The 25-year-old mother grizzly was with a cub in a thick section of woods when the men walked within 15 feet of them. The bear was surprised and charged the men, who both shot and killed it.

During the incident, one of the men was shot in the shoulder, but Montana FWP officials did not release how that happened. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Wildlife officials from the state and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement determined the bear was killed in self-defense.

The bear “did not have a history of conflict and was previously tagged for population monitoring work in 2009,” the department said in a statement.

FWP said it is unclear what happened to the cub in the aftermath.

Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, which has led to their population in Montana growing — increasing the likelihood of encounters between grizzly bears and humans.

“Montana is bear country. Avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with conflicts,” officials warned.

In 2020, a Montana man pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegal transport of grizzly bear claws after shooting a bear in self-defense and keeping the claws as “a memento.”

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