The 3 cubs were in good shape and couldn’t be trapped. In addition, there is yet another sow with 3 cubs in the area!

Rather than some marginal glade far from grizzly country (the Eldorado Grove), this sounds like grizzly central at this time of year where the bears are fat and cubs do well.

Here is a followup story in the Choteau Acantha. Pheasant hunter shoots grizzly sow

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

92 Responses to A second story. Pheasant hunter shoots grizzly sow

  1. avatar jdubya says:

    “Madel also maintains that hunters should carry bear spray and be ready to use it. “Bear spray could have turned this an entirely different way,” he said.”

    The more hunters claim that bear spray would be worthless in such an encounter, the more convinced I am they should be required to have it on their belt every time they hit the fields with a gun.

    You wanna go for a walk with a camera and not take spray, that is fine. The most you could do was throw a rock at a bear.

    But if you enter bear habitat with a lethal weapon, you should be required to have alternative means (i.e., bear spray) to defuse a confrontation. Shooting and killing a bear like this is bullshit.

  2. avatar gline says:

    I agree jdubya- and it is not just one bear in this incident but 4.

  3. avatar April Clauson says:

    So, looks like he was told grizzlies were on the property. He has hunted for many years, and as far as I am concerned he broke all the major rules of common sense when hunting. He should be charged, but of course he won’t be. To bad the rancher using public land, does not tell folks not to hunt on it anymore, can he do that????

  4. avatar Save bears says:

    April,

    No, if he is leasing the land, he cannot deny access by the public to the land.

  5. avatar Save bears says:

    Also to add, when it comes to land, in the Northern part of Montana you can pretty much be assured the possibility of bears being in the area, the rancher made them aware, the hunter knew the possibility was there and was well within his right to use the land. As the state has ruled this a defence situation, I am sure he won’t be charged, and I don’t feel he should be charged based on those I have spoken to, including Mike Madel.

  6. avatar April Clauson says:

    Thanks save bears for the answer on the land. Your opinion of weather he should be charged for the death of the bear is your’s, not mine.

  7. avatar Ryan says:

    “But if you enter bear habitat with a lethal weapon, you should be required to have alternative means (i.e., bear spray) to defuse a confrontation. Shooting and killing a bear like this is bullshit.”

    Jdubya,

    I’ll give you less than 2 seconds to throw your gun on the ground, unholster your bear spary, and fire. I’ll bet you 1000.00$ you can’t do it in under 2, even prepared. Now throw in the element of suprise and see how it goes.

    April,

    “He has hunted for many years, and as far as I am concerned he broke all the major rules of common sense when hunting.”

    What are those rules in your opinion? He mentioned he was looking for bear sign and didn’t see any.

    The hunter mentioned in the article he was looking for bear sign and saw none until he saw the bear.

  8. avatar Save bears says:

    April,

    I agree, whether he should or should not be charged are indeed our opinions. I just happen to be a little closer to what the investigation is, than what the news is reporting. If we are to deny access on all of the lands that might contain bears, then we might as well close the western half of Montana down…I don’t think that is reasonable or prudent. In this particular instance, there was no malicious intent, there was no mistake, the hunter was involved in a legal activity and defended his life, and I am sad a bear was killed. Being involved in wildlife management, as we have increasing populations of wildlife, unfortunately we are going to have increasing chances of conflict, recognizing that I agree more education is needed, but I don’t agree that every time it happens, someone should be charged.

  9. avatar Save bears says:

    April,

    Just a question, you state he should be charged? What crime would you suggest he be charged with?

  10. avatar April Clauson says:

    Lets see, he knew bears could and probley was on the land, he followed a game path, he went into berry bush’s that were over his head. His dog did not give any warning (not sure if the dog is a good hunting dog for bears, maybe birds) and he did not even carry bear spray. You can put the bear spray on a leash and carry it around your neck, quick and easy access!!!! or just go hunt your birds in an area that is not grizzly habitat, you can find those birds about anywhere!

  11. avatar Save bears says:

    As I said, much of the land in Western Montana can contain Grizzly bears, do they close the Western Half of Montana down? I am sorry, but this particular instance, I don’t feel bear spray would have made a difference and I told Mike so, the other day, at 22 feet, there is no where on your body that it could have been used effectively…

  12. avatar April Clauson says:

    Charged with the death of the bear! too many signs that the bears were in the area, he did not carry spray, so I feel that the risk he took was his own, and due to it there is a dead, collard bear and 3 cubs which probley will not make it through the winter. So he should be charged with something, I don’t know the rules but some should be made. There is enough warning on the fish and game and hunters site’s that this should not have happend.

  13. avatar Save bears says:

    And to add, I agree, that every hunter in Grizzly bear country should be carrying bear spray, despite what some say, I think in 99% of encounters it can be used, I just happen to think this one falls in that 1% that it would not have change the outcome, other than a injured or dead hunter…

  14. avatar April Clauson says:

    well, death of a grizzly sow, for what, a bird that you have to shoot 20 to make a meal out of??? go hunt the birds in a different area than where griz’s are, I am sure with all the land out there that would be possible, close griz areas down till they are in the dens. I think a Grizzly life is worth much more than some birds!

  15. avatar Ryan says:

    April,

    Your same points could be made about any hiker attack. He stated he was looking for bear sign and found none when he was hunting. At under 20 ft, I severely doubt he would have had time to get his bear spay even if it was around his neck.

    I believe your distaste for hunting is clouding your judgement in this discussion.

  16. avatar Save bears says:

    The ESA allows for defence of life and limb, which this falls under, until such time as they require bear spray to be carried in Grizzly Bear habitat, there is nothing to charge him with, it was not an illegal kill under the current rules and regulations.

    As I said, with increasing populations, there is going to be increasing conflict chances and even with a requirement to carry bear spray, there are still going to be bears killed..

  17. avatar April Clauson says:

    My distaste for hunting really is not why I am saying what I am. I just feel that where wild life lives that is endangered, or is confined to certain areas should be given more land to roam on, and if that means less land to hunt on, to bad so sad for the hunters. Here in AZ for instance, I have been here 15 years now, and have never seen a bison except on a ranch, bison are very important to our lands. Last week I looked up on the AZ F&G site to see when hunting is over so I can camp (won’t be camping till spring around here) and they have a list of animals that can be hunted along with how much it costs…Bison was on the list! now please, why in the world would F&G allow bison to be hunted if there is any in AZ? they should not be hunted in your areas either in my opinion, we killed them off once already and the ranchers want to see them dead again. and the price that locals pay to kill an animal is disgusting. 20.00 for an elk??? not residents pay much more than that. 1,000. for a local to kill a bison, 4,000 for a non rresident. our local wild life sure goes cheap around here! and at the end it says, thank your hunter next time you see a wild ram in the wild!!!! What a joke!!!!

  18. avatar Save bears says:

    April,

    There are a lot of things in this world I have a distaste for, but as there are two sides to each issue, and ALL Americans have the right to use their land, and currently hunting is a legal activity in the US…this particular instance was not illegal, it was defence of a human life. Wildlife lives in virtually every ecosystem in the US, so what do we do with the humans, that also live in virtually every ecosystem in the US. I have hunted elks as a non-resident in the state of AZ, believe me, it costs a hell of a lot more than you think..

    But you did make one statement, I agree with. “In My Opinion” of course others will have a different opinion. Neither are right or wrong, but just of a different opinion.

  19. avatar jdubya says:

    Ryan, your response to my post was
    “Jdubya, I’ll give you less than 2 seconds to throw your gun on the ground, unholster your bear spary, and fire. I’ll bet you 1000.00$ you can’t do it in under 2, even prepared. Now throw in the element of suprise and see how it goes.”

    Now that is a bullshit answer that has no relevance to my comment. Why don’t you actually respond to my proposal?

    Specifically; if you are hunting with a lethal weapon in bear country you should be required to carry bear spray.

    If we can at least get people to take the spray along then, in time, bear lives will be saved that would otherwise be lost. Or do you want to argue that point as well?

  20. avatar April Clauson says:

    Save bears, your right, we all have rights to our opinions, just out of curiosity, when you hunted elk in AZ, did you notice the difference in heard sizes here verses the areas in Wyoming, Idaho etc…we have a lot less elk and deer in AZ, I know that F & G state we have plenty, but that is not true. Heck, bears? they only issue 1 permit for a bear in the area that I camp, so that tells you that bears are far and few in AZ, same with Elk and deer. but F & G won’t admit to that. Same with our mountain goats, not many, but go ahead and kill them, then thank the hunter when you do see a live one…. I guess I will never wrap my brain around that…..I bet you did see the difference, what did you think about it or did you, just want to see if AZ is so full of wild life like they claim, I do not believe them as when I see a heard of elk it is about 20 maybe. Even some hunters I speak with when camping say that 20 years ago there would be herds of hundreds in the meadows, so in 20 years where did they all go? hunter’s say that F & G decided how many elk and deer should be in an area and that they are the ones that have dwindled the counts. So, hunters or F & G??? who is to blame?? All I know is that I would love to see the wild life and in the numbers that you folks have in your areas!

  21. avatar josh sutherland says:

    April,

    AZ habitat is far different than the other western states. Go to unit 8,9,10 or 3a 3c or unit 1 at just about anytime and you will see TONS of elk. Now bear in mind that country is flat with lots of cedar and juniper trees so seeing them will be difficult. When they are rutting they are easy to locate.. also as far as Bighorns Sheep are concerned you should thank hunters and your local FNAWS group for creating the Desert Sheep you have in AZ because the hundreds of thousands of dollars that go to transplant more sheep, do studies and all sorts of research are all funded mainly by hunters dollars. Also you have the best mule deer unit in the WORLD in AZ, its called the “The Strip”…. Go out there and look for deer, they are hard to find.. Once again flat and thick cedar trees… Good luck.

  22. avatar Elk275 says:

    I believe the hunter was hunting on private land with the permission of the landowner. It is private land and if the season is open and the landowner allows hunting then what is the problem. Maybe the landowner charged the hunters a trespass fee and this fee is used to maintain and help pay for the ranch. (I do not like pay hunting) It has only been in the last 20 or so years the I have heard about grizzlies out on the open plains of the Rocky Mountain Front. Do not get me wrong, I love wildlife as much as anyone here and have been involved with it all of my life.

    Maybe the rancher should charged the anti hunters not to allow hunting — maybe $50,000 for the season. I have lived in Montana all of my life and there has always been enough grizzly bears. In 1971, I purchased a grizzly license for $5 at the license agent. It was the hunters in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s through there rod and gun clubs and the fish and game that rebuilt the game herds of today. In those days there were no or few vocal anti hunters around.

    Let the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks manage the wildlife that they are entrusted by state statute.

  23. avatar jimbob says:

    Ryan, JDubya is probably right—bear spray would save some of these guys’ lives. This bird hunter was lucky. He hit a smaller griz WITH BIRDSHOT and managed to kill it because it was so close and he luckily hit it with all three shots. This could have been a “hunter mauled by injured grizzly” scenario if he had only wounded the bear. As far as I’m concerned it’s unsafe for people AND bears when hunters go in without spray. It wouldn’t hurt to have it…

  24. avatar April Clauson says:

    Oh well, I give up, have fun with this topic. and I will go to those areas, when I figure out where they are….and see for myself all those elk and deer you seem to have seen…

  25. avatar April Clauson says:

    Elk, read the article, not private land….

  26. avatar April Clauson says:

    Elk, are you the same Elk on YS net??? if so, tell us how much you love wolves!!!! LOL if it is you, if not, sorry!

  27. avatar Ryan says:

    “Shooting and killing a bear like this is bullshit.”

    Jdubya,

    Thats what I was responding too, he used his only option.

    April,

    You dont have a clue what you are talking about.
    Next time before you go into a rant, do a little research. The buffalo in AZ are from capitve herds that were given to the state, their numbers are limited as to not overrun the range. Sheep and Mtn goat tags are extremely limited as to not cause damage to the herd numbers. FNAWS (hunting group btw) has done more for sheep restoration and protection than all of your beloved advoacting groups combined. Hunter dollars (both taxes and liscence fees) are almost single handly responsible for all of the major wildlife habitat conversation and species restoration in the last 100 years. Just because you cant find animals in the woods, doesn’t mean that they are not there.

    “hunter’s say that F & G decided how many elk and deer should be in an area and that they are the ones that have dwindled the counts”

    The hunter are right, big game populations are limited not necessarily by carrying capacity, but by damage complaints from farmers, ranchers, and home owners.

    BTW, The spring won’t be any safer as turkey and bear hunters will be out. Your best off to sit in your house and shudder in fear that some rogue hunter might kill your dog or even worse.

  28. avatar gline says:

    Bye April for now… what happened to discussion about Griz bears?

  29. avatar josh sutherland says:

    April,

    The elk are not just gonna be standing out in the open for you to look at. They have been referred to as “ghosts of the forest”, they are very smart. If you want elk on the side of the road go to YNP. If not plan on hiking a few miles, knowing where bedding areas and feeding grounds are and being there at dawn and dusk when the elk are active. During the day they are very in-active and bedded down. Good luck. Also just read in the proclamation and it will give you a map of where you the units are located. In fact units 8,9,10 are some of the best elk units in the country, bull to cow ratios of 35 bulls to 100 cows.

  30. avatar Ryan says:

    Jimbob,

    I carry it when I’m archery hunting as I don’t really want to pack a piece, I’ve carried it rifle hunting as well, although I feel a warning shot should usually do the job.

  31. avatar nabeki says:

    It’s Girzzly Heaven and Grizzly Hell. Can’t think of anything that describes it better. Grizzly Heaven is where there are no people and Grizzly Hell is where the great bear meets up with us and pays the consequences. I’m so tired of hearing about dead grizzlies.

    I”m going to write to the Hungry Horse News that printed the editorial “Grizzly Heaven, Grizzly Hell”, about ten years ago and see if I can find it and post here.

    http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com

  32. avatar gline says:

    It seems to be that way for most predators Nabeki- don’t you think?

  33. avatar Elk275 says:

    April

    I have read several articles on this subject and the one I remember indicated private property. The above article says state leased land which is not in Montana truly public land. Sorry. It belongs to the the State of Montana in trust for the public schools and universities and by state law must be manage for the greatest possible return. It has only been 20 years since hunters/fishers have been able to access state owned lands sportsmen/women when they purchase there licenses pay for access to these lands. If one is not hunting or fishing when legally allowed then access can be restricted, it is a complex situation that I many others do not understand. If a person wants to hike and view wildlife during the summer I not sure what the regulations are. I do feel that it is public land and helped pay for the change in laws.

    No, I am not on YS.

    I was all for the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone when it was 10 breeding pairs and/or 335 wolves. Today there are many times that number of wolves. Last year 4 different times I had wolves in the area that I was hunting and the elk had clear out. Ten years ago this was not the case and the elk were always in their honey holes. The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has had to reduce available permits because of wolves deprevation. There are many people in Montana who depend upon elk for there winter meat supply. I am for wolves but we do not need the numbers that we have. Historically wildlife manage has been up to the states and that is way it should be. By common law and court case wildlife belongs to the states. Now there are others who think that the federal government would do a better job, but over the last one hundred years the State of Montana has completely rebuild populations that were depleted do to market hunting.

  34. avatar April Clauson says:

    Thanks for your answer Elk275, glad you are not the Elk on YS net! ok, carry on folks. glad to see Josh and Ryan joined in!

  35. Save Bears,

    These hunters seem real stupid to be wading out into a deep patch of buffaloberry, known to be a prime grizzly fall feeding ground, to where it got so deep it was over their head and they could go no further.

    Then “He surprised a female grizzly who was bedded down for the day with three cubs.”

    I don’t know, shotgun or pepperspray, it was stupid to be there and a horrible situation. I get nervous wading out into a berry patch I know has bears of any kind in it. I don’t think my pistol, rifle, shotgun, or big can of spray is much comfort, because not likely to be of use. Even if of use, who wants an incident?

    It’s not true that most of Western Montana has grizzly warnings during hunting season, and not all areas with grizzlies are the same, anyway. The one should have glowed bright red to them because from what we’ve learned since the first story was posted weren’t these hunters warned of grizzly bears? There were probably lots of sign too.

    Maybe I just misunderstood your posts.

  36. avatar Mike says:

    The hunter should be fined and have his license revoked for at least a couple years.

  37. avatar Save bears says:

    Yes,

    Ralph, I can assure you, you misunderstood my posts..

  38. avatar Cris Waller says:

    From the article:

    “Montana FWP game warden Rod Duty and Teton County Undersheriff Denny Blauer responded to the kill site on state lands leased by a local rancher.”

    Many people claimed this killing happened on “private land” and therefore it should not be closed to hunting. Looks like the true story is a bit different.

    If there are grizzly bears there, close the area to hunting. The lives of a female grizzly and her cubs are more important, as far as I am concerned, than the loss of one small area to bird hunters.

  39. avatar Elk275 says:

    Mike

    “The hunter should be fined and have his license revoked for at least a couple of Years.”

    I will bet you that hell will freeze over before a jury in Choteau, Montana would fine that hunter guilty. I bet the county attorney would not even take on that case. Let’s not be stupid and waste time and money. The town would give him a medal.

    If that case when to federal court it would be tried in Great Falls, Montana and a jury would not find him guilty either.

    Case close.

  40. avatar Save bears says:

    By the way, I didn’t say most of Western Montana has Grizzly Warnings during hunting season, what I said, was Most of Western Montana is Grizzly country and I know for a fact that is it being managed by FWP as grizzly country, not just the recognized recovery zones, if Most of Western Montana is recognized grizzly country, do we close it to human use?, or do we concentrate on education? This hunter did nothing wrong, unfortunately, there was a melding of two species in a situation…

    And still no one has said, what he should be charged with?

    There is no requirement to carry bear spray, he was on the lookout for bear sign, he was hunting in a legal area to hunt, and he was damn lucky he didn’t get injured or killed, but it still remains, this is an open area for hunting, the possibility exists you WILL run into bears in the rocky mountain front and he is 1% of the hunters that had a close encounter, and bear spray would not have made any difference…

    Where do we draw the line? People are going to use the outdoors for legal activities, which this hunter was doing…as I have said, this is a loss and I am sad for that loss, but there was nothing illegal going on, this was not a mistaken identity, he was not hunting for bears, he came face to face(20 feet +-) and he reacted, the bear lost in this instance…

    I am a multiple use advocate, if I am going to pay for it, I am going to use it, this is a very lucky individual, and I am not diminishing the loss of a bear with cubs..unless we are ready to vacate and let the animal have it all back, we are going to continue to have these interactions and losses, I am sorry if some don’t like or accept that, but it is the truth..

  41. avatar josh sutherland says:

    Cris but you and I both know it would not stop there. Anti hunting orgs would jump all over that… It would be one small area of bird hunting, then entire mtn ranges that contain grizz.. And you know that as well as I do. I agree that this is a horrible situation and I hope that the changes are made to minimize these encounters. But as long as hunting occurs in grizz habitat you will have these types of encounters.. And I doubt you will have success in banning hunting in grizz habitat. JMO

  42. avatar Save bears says:

    Cris,

    ALL OF WESTERN MONTANA IS GRIZZLY COUNTRY! Do we close all of western Montana off?

  43. avatar Elk275 says:

    Cris
    Since this happen on state land it should be section 16 or section 36, it depends. Adjacent to that is private land. Twenty miles from the Rocky Montana Front in Teton County most of the land is private except for state school sections. State school land is not public land. The public has a right to trespass certain times of the years it they have purchase a state lands permit.

    I just check a land ownership map and there are other sections besides 16 and 36. http://nris.mt.gov/gis/gisdatalib/downloads/100Kpub_CHOTEAU.pdf

    This could have happen in and adjacent private section and a landowner should have to right to hunt or allowing during hunting season. I am not a lover of the cattle industry but private land is private land. In the 1920 to the early 30’s apparently my great grandfather several huge ranches on the rocky mountain front. He was a doctor and a poor businessman and upon his death it was gone.

  44. avatar JB says:

    “I am a multiple use advocate, if I am going to pay for it, I am going to use it…unless we are ready to vacate and let the animal have it all back, we are going to continue to have these interactions and losses, I am sorry if some don’t like or accept that, but it is the truth..”

    SB: I am an advocate of multiple use as well, but I am intrigued by your question: where DO we draw the line? Human populations continue to increase with a focus on low-density “exurban” development, and westerners continue to love to hunt, fish, and recreate in the outdoors. Perhaps more importantly, hunters seem to want more and more game (take a look at the long term elk population trends in Idaho to see what I mean). Will we be able to “save bears” if these trends continue? Or will you have to change your alias?

  45. JB,

    Just one point here. My impression of this general area is that while it is private land, it is being depopulated by economic trends.

    I found myself out in this country about 30 miles east of the Rocky Mountain Front and realized that there were likely fewer people by far within 5 miles from me than a few days earlier when I was actually up in the Front, which is considered to be backcountry or Wilderness.

  46. avatar sal_N says:

    This is going to be one of those 100+ thread as was the last one on this same bear and hunter.

    This guy was warned, he carried a can of bear spray, and as I stated on the last article was too much in a hurry to be the first to kill a pheasant and made the wrong turn due to bad judgment and hyper excitement. Obviously no shots had been fired as the bear was still asleep. He is guilty of bad judgment and a grizzly died for his stupidity.

    The issue now is will those three cubs survive the winter? It does not look like fish and game is putting the effort in finding them as much as they would have if a wolf had taken a sheep or a calf.

    Josh,
    On a separate note, would you take twelve year old dog hunting?
    The dog was at the side of the hunter and did not have time to bark (as stated in the article). I don’t bird hunt with dogs so I am making an un-informed opinion, but that dog seems a bit too old for this kind of work especially in grizzly country.

    The other interesting item was that he had five rounds in his auto, we in CA cannot have more than 3 (including the chambered one) and we have to have a plug. Fish & Game along with others test all the autos for the plug and even look at the side by side or over unders.

  47. avatar josh sutherland says:

    Sal,

    The plug in the gun is usually reserved for migratory birds only. Upland game birds you can have 5. That is how it is in UT, could be different in MT.

    As for the 12 year old dog, pheasant hunting is not very strenuous usually in flat country. If the dog is healthy I dont see any reason to not take him hunting. I have seen 8 year old dogs that cant hunt, it would just depend on the health and shape of the dog..

    Josh

  48. avatar Elk275 says:

    In Montana one when hunting upland birds can have more than 3 rounds including one in the chamber. Ducks and geese are controled by the federal goverment and one can only have 3 rounds. It is his right to take his dog hunting even if he is 12 years old.

    Another thing that I read about this incident is that the hunters were from Fairbanks, Alaska. Alaskans have a different attitute about bears, I lived there for 4 years during the pipeline.

  49. avatar Sal_N says:

    Josh,

    Thank you for the info, things are different state to state.

    I know nothing about hunting dogs and my dogs at home have little or no recall, so I am a long ways from having a “hunting dog”.

  50. My point about the area being depopulated is northern Montana is the rare place where grizzlies can be reasonably assumed to be reoccupying the plains. Private or not, people are becoming fewer and there are things for grizzlies to eat far from the mountains here.

    What was true 30 years ago. Is not today. Grizzly bears don’t need wilderness to survive. They just need food and no one to kill them. One griz almost made it to the Missouri River this year!

  51. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    You bring up a few very good points, it is up to the state of Montana how much growth goes on, that I have no control over. But how we allow growth to happen does need to be taken into consideration and it is not just a bear issue, it is a wildlife issue.

    I think we are fully capable of saving just about any species we deem appropriate, now will we?

  52. avatar nabeki says:

    gline Says:
    “It seems to be that way for most predators Nabeki- don’t you think?”

    Yes you’re right, they have it very tough. Especially with Wildlife Services blowing them away in such huge numbers. I’m stunned by how many coyotes they killed in a four year period, over 600,000. That’s crazy and outrageous. Who in the heck are they to make those decisions about America’s wildlife? This system needs to be changed.

    http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com

  53. avatar nabeki says:

    Ralph says:
    “These hunters seem real stupid to be wading out into a deep patch of buffaloberry, known to be a prime grizzly fall feeding ground, to where it got so deep it was over their head and they could go no further.”

    That’s the part I can’t believe. I mean use your head. Berries=bears. Hello, Mr Bird Hunter. That is just common sense, you don’t go wading around in berry patches this time of year when bears are in hyperphasia.

    I live in Western Montana and we are all aware this is girz country no matter where you go. You have to be bear aware. I would no more wade around in a berry patch in October in Montana then I’d swim with a great white shark. People don’t use common sense. Just cause you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.

    Good point Ralph.

  54. Thanks, nabeki,

    An outdoors wise person just doesn’t wade into thickets, armed or not.

    You can easily break your leg, get impaled, run into a skunk, even get lost and overfatigued.

  55. avatar Save bears says:

    Well I have to disagree, I swam with sharks in Hawaii when I lived there and have been in the woods with bears, you need to be aware, but I don’t think you need to stop.

    Of course I drive on public roads as well with people talking on cell phones, so maybe I live dangerously..

  56. Ryan,

    I hadn’t heard about what you posted —

    11 200911 M COY
    19 Jul 2009 Line Crk, BLM, WY Known, human-caused, live removal of male COY whose mother was killed
    10 200910 M COY

    19 Jul 2009 Line Crk, BLM, WY Known, human-caused, live removal of male COY whose mother was killed
    9 200909 F COY

    19 Jul 2009 Line Crk, BLM, WY Known, human-caused, live removal of female COY whose mother was killed
    8 200908 F Adult

    19 Jul 2009 Line Crk, BLM, WY Known, human-caused, female with 3 COY, defense of life while hiking

    Sounds like a major incident to me with no media.

  57. avatar Save bears says:

    If I am not going to go outdoors, then I might as well resign myself to the fact, I have to live in an urban environment with all the dangers that involves, I am sorry I will take my chances in the wildlands of America, than the wild streets of a neighborhood..

  58. Save Bears,

    Who are you responding to here? I’m confused, lost track or something.,

  59. avatar Save bears says:

    Ralph,

    You and I seem to be having some difficulty communicating today?

    Ralph Said:

    “An outdoors wise person just doesn’t wade into thickets, armed or not.

    You can easily break your leg, get impaled, run into a skunk, even get lost and overfatigued.”

    nabeki said:

    “That’s the part I can’t believe. I mean use your head. Berries=bears. Hello, Mr Bird Hunter. That is just common sense, you don’t go wading around in berry patches this time of year when bears are in hyperphasia.

    I live in Western Montana and we are all aware this is girz country no matter where you go. You have to be bear aware. I would no more wade around in a berry patch in October in Montana then I’d swim with a great white shark. People don’t use common sense. Just cause you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.”

    Lets look at how many people actually venture out during this part of the year, and then compare it to the number of people that actually have a situation happen?

    I agree, this was not the best situation, and it is sad a bear was killed, but if we are going to limit ourselves to our homes and not go outdoors, we might as well move back to the city.. When I lived in Montana, every single time I walked out the door, I was in Grizzly country and where my new property is, in WA, I will be in bear country, yes I could be in a situation, but the odds are that I won’t ever have a problem..I won’t limit my enjoyment of the outdoors, because I could have a problem, of course, I am educated to the fact something could happen and take measures to prevent it from happening, but I am not perfect and I don’t know anyone who is.

    Many here are making this hunter sound like that fool Tim Treadwell and he went looking for trouble, but I can tell you after talking with Mike Madel, he didn’t think the guy was crazy and I don’t think he was either, it was simply a case of both being in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was no malicious intent or stupidity involved..

  60. OK,

    A misunderstanding, SB.

    I guess there are too many threads, I don’t follow them all effectively.

  61. avatar Save bears says:

    Ralph,

    The only mistake this hunter made, was he was not carrying bear spray, I am again sad the bear was killed, but I have to wonder, if he had a can of bear spray with him and was not able to use it, what the conversation would be? I am a very strong advocate of bear spray and carry it myself every single time I venture out as well as a pistol, but I also recognize that sometimes, it will not be effective..

    As I said, I wonder how the conversation would go if he did have a can of bear spray and still had to shoot the bear..?

  62. avatar SAP says:

    Ralph – re the Line Creek WY BLM incident with three COY & dead adult female — isn’t that the shooting by the retired Baltimore PD guy? Seems like it was out of Clark, WY & was written up in the Billings paper. I could be wrong …

  63. avatar Mike says:

    ++Many here are making this hunter sound like that fool Tim Treadwell and he went looking for trouble, but I can tell you after talking with Mike Madel, he didn’t think the guy was crazy and I don’t think he was either, it was simply a case of both being in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was no malicious intent or stupidity involved..++

    Busting through head high brush on the rocky mountain front, most famous for plains grizzly bears is stupidity, plain and simple. Especially in the context of being specifically warned by the leasee that grizzlies were present.

  64. avatar Save bears says:

    Yup, Mike you just keep armchair quarter backing, maybe you will be a coach one of these days…

    Again, I will ask, you say you hike and camp in Grizzly country, but have you ever been in an attack situation? if not, then you have opinion, but no experience! Until recently, during anyone of our lifetimes, the Rocky Mountain Front may have been a famous area, but it was not populated with grizzlies, remember the Mountain Men, the Settlers took care of that over 100 years ago, they are now just starting to re-populate the area and I suspect it will become a very active area in the future.

  65. avatar JB says:

    Yikes, you people have been busy!

    Ralph, thanks for the information on where this incident occurred. I was pondering the larger social and demographic trends (e.g. development in the valleys, exurbanizaiton) more so than the particulars of this incident.

    SB: Seems we’re on the same page again. I’ll trade the risk of bear attack over driving busy urban streets with kids texting on their cell phones any day!

  66. avatar Mike says:

    The rocky mountain front has always been populated with girzz, Save Bears. In fact, a famous story appeared several years ago in which biologists captured the largest bear, *period* ever recorded in the lower 48.

    Did you know the front also harbors the second largest elk herd in the U.S., and the largest herd of bighorn sheep in the U.S.?

  67. avatar grdnrmt says:

    Bears have been hanging around Simms, MT too…

  68. avatar jimbob says:

    I agree with Ralph—it shows a lack of brains or unnecessary bravado for these guys to be wading through thick bear habitat for a bird (or even an elk). I wouldn’t do it. When I hike in grizz country I avoid a lot of places where I can’t see in. I still get spooked sometimes. Here in Az I’ve even walked up on black bears where we both scared each other–not the greatest situation, but I prefer that to a grizzly in dense brush!

  69. avatar Alan says:

    I will not second guess this guy in pulling the trigger. I cannot say 100 percent that in the same situation I would not do exactly the same, even if I had bear spray. No one could. If he had been completely unarmed this may well have turned out to be a bluff charge…no harm, no foul; but there is no way to know. Of course, I would not be in this situation because I have enough sense to know: berry thickets in the fall=bears, just as I know willows in the fall=moose. As an unarmed photographer I know better than to go traipsing about either; but guns, just like bear spray, tend to give folks a false sense of security. I also do my homework about any new areas I visit.
    OK, so I won’t second guess pulling the trigger. I will second guess being in there in the first place, and I will second guess not having bear spray (not not using it, but not having it).
    I get so sick and tired of hearing (reading) hunters say how “impossible” it would have been to use. Statements like Ryan’s above, “I’ll give you less than 2 seconds to throw your gun on the ground, unholster your bear spary, and fire. I’ll bet you 1000.00$ you can’t do it in under 2, even prepared.”
    In the first place, if you are going to be in there (a place where bears are likely, such as this thicket), you already have the holster undone and the safety off on the spray. Then you don’t have to even “pull” it, you don’t have to aim (as you do with the gun), and you can “spray from the hip”. You don’t even have to “throw the gun on the ground”. I’ve tried it; and yes, it can happen in two seconds easy.
    Just once I would like to hear a hunter say, “You know what? I had the bear spray on my hip, unholstered, when the bear came out of nowhere. It scared the sh*t out of me and all I could think to do was shoot” I could respect that. But at least give yourself the option. Use the spray if possible.
    To respond to Save Bears, “ALL OF WESTERN MONTANA IS GRIZZLY COUNTRY! Do we close all of western Montana off?”, if I may? If hunters continue to remember their guns and forget their common sense (I like saying this about hikers, carrying their bear spray and forgetting their common sense!), and refuse to even consider that just maybe bear spray might work in certain situations (like when the hunter shot his buddy trying to “save” him), then maybe the answer is yes.
    BTW, Elk 275; there was an interesting article about wolves and elk populations and hunting in the Montana F&G mag. recently. They had a graph showing that, while harvest rates are sightly lower now than in the ninties when elk were so overpopulated north of Yellowstone, they are higher now than at any time in the past. Interesting.

  70. avatar Elk275 says:

    Alan

    The only agency that can open or close hunting season is the state fish and game. Let’s get real. The fish and game is not going to close hunting season because of bears nor are the western senators going to allow congress to dicate.

  71. avatar Elk275 says:

    Alan

    “BTW, Elk 275; there was an interesting article about wolves and elk populations and hunting in the Montana F&G mag. recently. They had a graph showing that, while harvest rates are sightly lower now than in the ninties when elk were so overpopulated north of Yellowstone, they are higher now than at any time in the past. Interesting.”

    I saw that article and have not read it yet. But the Fish, Wildlife and Parks has had to cut the elk quota in the Bitter Root Valley because of wolf deprevation. In the Billings Gazette this morning an outfitting camp operating north of Yellowstone had four groups of hunters and there were no elk killed.

  72. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    They had a graph showing that, while harvest rates are sightly lower now than in the ninties when elk were so overpopulated north of Yellowstone, they are higher now than at any time in the past. Interesting.”

    Is there a link for this?

  73. avatar Alan says:

    This was in the Montana Outdoors Magazine, puplished by Montana Fish and Game.
    Here is a quote from alongside the graph:
    “Both elk and white tailed deer harvest in all three western Montana FWP regions increased over the past several decades. The total annual elk harvest in region 1,2 and 3 combined averaged 12,500 in the 1970’s and around 19,000 during the past decade. The annual whitetail harvest in the three regions combined grew from an average of 8,500 in the 1970’s to 30,000 in the past decade.” As expected you see a high spike in the ninties in region 3 (north of Yellowstone). This is when the northern herd peaked at 19,000. Historically this herd has been 6-10,000. Indeed, back in the thirties, forties and fifties sharpshooters in the park worked to keep it at that level since there were no wolves to do the job. Later the late winter hunt in Gardiner was started because the herd was getting out of control and eating itself (and local landowners) out of house and home. Several thousand elk died of starvation the winter BEFORE wolves were re-introduced. Even after wolves were re-introduced Montana kept the winter hunt “harvest” at high numbers for several years contributing to a pretty rapid decline. The herd now, I think, is somewhere between 6 and 7 thousand (back to normal?). Many hunters and photographers (including myself) remember the “glory days” of the ninties when elk were everywhere. You could sit in a lounge chair at Norris campground and photograph the rut. You could sit near the border of the park and plink off huge bulls as they migrated out if you were a hunter. Great for hunters and photographers; not so much for the ecosystem.
    The other interesting thing about the graph are the lines for regions 1 and 2. They are esentially flat! The harvest for region 1 in 1971 was just over 2,000; today it is just under 2,000. The line for region 2 in 1971 read just under 4,000; today it is just over 4,000!
    So it becomes apparent that it was the unnatural surge of elk numbers (to historic high figures) in the Yellowstone area in the 1990’s, numbers universally considered to be way more than carrying capacity for a healthy ecosystem, that lead some hunters, outfitters and photographers who either have short memories or simply weren’t around prior to the ninties, to believe that was normal. Indeed, since the elk population has returned to something closer to pre-surge numbers, it is logical that harvest numbers return to pre-surge numbers as well, but good luck with that!

  74. avatar Elk275 says:

    In 1974 there were 35,000 elk in Montana and several years ago there were 160,000 elk. In the 1980’s elk started moving east and to the plains. Today there are elk all the way to North Dakota. I know a rancher in Big Timber, Montana who use to go to Dillon to hunt elk now he leases his Crazy Mountain ranch to an outfitter.

    Now was there a surge or were the elk moving onto the plains which are there historical range. My bother-in-law farms east of Custer, Montana (50 miles east of Billings) one day he was in the fields on his tractor and saw 2 bulls in the sugar beet fields. Quite a sight. Today he contends with over 200 elk a night in the beet fields. No there do not want to have wolves in the area. Hunters do a find job.

  75. avatar Bob Caesar says:

    Some thoughts on the killing grizzly bears in Ditch Creek, Wyoming and in the Eldorado Grove in Montana.

    We often attribute these “accidental” encounters to things like bad luck, stupidity, ignorance, fear, self-defense, etc. However, in considering the circumstances of the killing of the aforementioned two bears I have to think, possible, quite possible, these two “hunter” knew full well what they were doing. They knew what the risks were and what the outcome might be.

    Why would an experienced hunter pass near gut pile and a couple of hours later walk in the open, directly up to it (armed with a high-powered rifle and a hog of a 44 mag pistol) and be surprised it was occupied by a bear? Then – in fear for his very life – kill the bear when it was still 120′ away and five feet from the gut pile? Wouldn’t any responsible hunter go out of his way to avoid that place – unless he was looking for trouble? Unless he had no objection to, maybe even wanted to kill a grizzly. This guy was asking for trouble – and the young grizzly got it!

    Why would an experienced hunter from grizzly laden Alaska pursue pheasants in a berry thicket in western Montana, when he knew that bears frequented the patch? In a patch so thick that one wouldn’t see a grizzly and its three cubs until they were only a few feet away. A patch where it would seem very difficult to get a shot off at a flying pheasants as he admits he had to crawl through it? Wouldn’t an experienced and wise woodsman avoid such places – unless he had no problem with, maybe even wanted to kill a grizzly.

    Maybe not in the two cases cited here – but too often hunters know full well what they were getting into. They in fact, consciously or perhaps unconsciously, yet purposely put themselves in harms way in the quest of actually doing what resulted – to kill a grizzly bear!

    Maybe it is all part of the anti-predator, anti-anything that is competition for red meat, which so often permeates the thinking of those called hunters. Perhaps as one such guy said to me speaking of the sub-adult grizzly killed in Ditch Creek, “any dead griz is a good griz”.

    Considering the circumstances of both of these events I can’t see how they can be called “accidental encounters” for these guys were asking for, indeed inviting trouble from the git go!

  76. avatar josh sutherland says:

    I doubt the hunter was on a quest to kill a grizz considering he shot it with a 20 gauge shotgun loaded with bird shot. Not exactly the gun I would take to a bear fight. The other story you mentioned you do have some obvious points that any sensible hunter would avoid a gut pile in grizz country. Assuming obviously he knew the gut pile was there.

  77. avatar Sal_N says:

    Bob C.

    I may agree with you on the first bear and the moron that had a 44 mag, that one I may be able to buy into that conspiracy theory but on the second bear, I am 100% with Josh. I am even surprised that the hunter was able to kill the bear with a 20 gauge full of bird shot. The second hunter already carried bear spray.
    I have talked to many people in Park County that are against cougars, black bears, grizzlies, wolves, coyotes etc…. those people walk in the woods with large caliber handguns or rifles not a 20 gauge. That is plain too small to defend yourself from a dive bombing Canadian goose let alone a grizzly.

  78. avatar Mike says:

    ++ doubt the hunter was on a quest to kill a grizz considering he shot it with a 20 gauge shotgun loaded with bird shot. Not exactly the gun I would take to a bear fight. ++

    Obviously the guy isn’t very bright. Crawling on hands and knees in thick, head high brush in a known grizz area just after being told about bears by the landowner? That’s the hunters fault, period, end of discussion.

  79. avatar Elk275 says:

    “Maybe not in the two cases cited here – but too often hunters know full well what they were getting into. They in fact, consciously or perhaps unconsciously, yet purposely put themselves in harms way in the quest ”

    We talk about how stupid hunters are and the situations they put themselves in. If one was not to put him self into a situation in grizzly country then one might as well stay home.

    Thirty five years I was a young and strong lad who took off by himself to hunt mountain goat in the Wrangell Saint Elias Mountains in Alaska. The pilot had to set me out twice and on the second camp move we landed on the Tana River. Upon landing the pilot said watch out for grizzlies there are very abundant around here. The super cub came to life and within a minute was a dot in the sky. I put my tent up and looked around, no shit, there were grizzly bear tracks everywhere. Several days later I had killed a goat and bone it out, put the pack on my back and down the mountain I went.

    When I got to camp I was soaked in blood from my hair to my boots. I was so tried that all I could do was to lay the meat on some willow branches and hide and head on a log. I cooked dinner on my Seva 123, there was no use in separating the kitchen from the cooking area with me soaked in blood. I went to sleep and slept very lightly that night, no bear came and the plane was there around noon.

    If a bear had come that night and cause any touble I would have had to shoot it. There was no pepper spray in those days.

    Yes, I knew what I was getting into and the risk, I and every other hunter that day in Alaska and “they in fact, conciously or perhaps unconsciouly, yet purposely put themselves in harms way in the quest.” There was no way to get around it if one wanted to hunt the wilderness of Alaska.

  80. avatar Elk275 says:

    Obviously the guy isn’t very bright. Crawling on hands and knees in thick, head high brush in a known grizz area just after being told about bears by the landowner? That’s the hunters fault, period, end of discussion.

    Yes this should be the end of discussion it has been investigated and the state found that the hunter acted in self defence. Try to cite him and have a trial in Teton, the jury would find him inocent. end of discussion.

  81. avatar Bob Caesar says:

    Ok, good points. I concede, considering the gun he carried, the guy in the berry patch in Montana did not have conscious, evil intent towards a bear, but rather a total disregard for common sense, and no respect for that bear or any bear who he had to have known might be trhere. As our friend Forrest Gump’s mother used to say, “Stupid is as stupid does” and of course, the old saying, “you can’t fix stupid”.

    What should scare all of us is that people like this are free among us carrying loaded guns. (And, I am a 40 year, Life Member of the NRA so please don’t take that as anti anything).

    By the way – they have just announced that the bear killed in Ditch Creek was the daughter of the famous 399! A bear that was seen by upwards of ten thousand visitors to Grand Teton Nat’l. Park. A damn shame she went that way!

  82. avatar Save bears says:

    So now it has morphed into “Crawling on his hands and knees” Wow, no where have I read that and that was not what he told the investigators..

    But I will agree with Mike on one thing, End of story, it has been ruled “Self Defense” so that is indeed the end of the discussion.

  83. Bob Caesar,

    I just posted the Jackson Hole Daily story on the shot dead cub incident in Ditch Creek (399’s cub).

  84. avatar Ryan says:

    Save bears,

    Its going to get better, I fully believe the facts of the article will be completely gone soon. Posts will soon read…

    “we was actively following fresh grizzly sign in an area where the rancher specifically said the bear would be for the sneaking quietly with the hope of getting a shot at the illusive bear”

    Even though the articles stated he was looking for bear sign and found none. When I was a kid in AK there was a brown bear that was sited behind our house in our subdivision, my dad and neighbors who all held legal bear tags decided to hunt it. Guess what it was never seen again and no one ever killed it. The only reason I bring up this incident, is that even when a bear is reported in an area, doesn’t mean it will be there the next day, even if your looking for it chances are you won’t see it.

  85. avatar Alan says:

    “Thirty five years (ago?) I was a young and strong lad who took off by himself to hunt mountain goat in the Wrangell Saint Elias Mountains in Alaska.” Well, you were certainly young and apparently strong.
    “… there were grizzly bear tracks everywhere.”
    “When I got to camp I was soaked in blood from my hair to my boots.” Like most young bucks, not so smart. Invincible!
    “If a bear had come that night and cause any touble I would have had to shoot it.” What if two or three had come into camp? Four? Five?
    I’m not a hunter so I showed this to a friend of mine who used to hunt like this in Alaska; not quite that long ago, but close.
    One thing he always did was carry clean clothes to change into.
    The bloody clothes would then be left with the carcass and he would then camp at least two hundred yards away.
    There are always precautions that can be taken, rather than simply saying, “Hey, I’ve got a gun. Whatever happens, happens!”
    This is a criticism that is often voiced about photographers. That some have the attitude, “Hey, I’ve got bear spray. whatever happens, happens!” The fact is that common sense hasn’t changed in thirty five years, nor has it changed since the invention of bear spray. Just because someone has a death wish doesn’t mean they have a right to take a bear with them.

  86. avatar Alan says:

    What i would like to know is: are there still pheasant hunters in that thicket today?

  87. avatar Save bears says:

    Alan,

    I am sure there are, it is still a legal hunting area and the season is still open.

  88. avatar Elk275 says:

    Alan

    Do not armchair quarterback.You were not there and you were not there in that time and place.

    “When I got to camp I was soaked in blood from my hair to my boots.” Like most young bucks, not so smart. Invincible!
    “If a bear had come that night and cause any trouble I would have had to shoot it.” What if two or three had come into camp? Four? Five?
    I’m not a hunter so I showed this to a friend of mine who used to hunt like this in Alaska; not quite that long ago, but close.
    One thing he always did was carry clean clothes to change into.
    The bloody clothes would then be left with the carcass and he would then camp at least two hundred yards away.
    There are always precautions that can be taken, rather than simply saying”

    I had been gone close to 10 days and I had hitched hiked from Anchorage and I was filthy — I was Charlie Brown’s friend “Pig Pen”. I had a 35 pound pack and my today’s standards my camping gear would be in a museum – that is what I had. Clean clothes they weren’t available and I hitched hiked back to
    Anchorage, just as dirty. It was a different world out there then. Some years later I was hunting sheep in the Brooks Range after ten days nothing was clean.

    “What if two or three had come into camp? Four? Five?” Very good question. I only had 7 rounds of 30-06 left, I was aware that. I also had a bear tag with me, grizzly season was open. If I had shot a grizzly I would punched my tag and skinned it. But it did not happen.

    As far as pheasant hunters still pheasant hunting, pheasant season closes on 1-1-10 and they are still hunting. The section where that bear was killed is state Section 36 eight miles north of Chouteu, it is an isolated section of state land surrounded by private land. Who is going to shut down hunting season? Tell that to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, I do not think that they have to ability to shut down several section of land in a situation like that. What if the private land adjacent to the state section was leased out for hunting are the lessees going to not go hunting. I doubt it.

  89. avatar Alan says:

    Wow! I won’t even respond to that. I’ll let folks take from your comments whatever they do. I know what I did.

  90. avatar Elk275 says:

    Alan

    I was legally licensed and following the law.

  91. avatar gline says:

    Why shut it down Elk? Why not use more hunting precautions? Dogs? bear spray? I’ve been reading the big argument on bear spray, but it seems logical that a hunter would bring bear spray just in case, to be conservative about killing … seems ethical. I would hope this story would lead to more precautions, not status quo

  92. avatar tessa says:

    Chris Servheen of the US Fish & Wildlife Service makes an interesting comment on bear spray at the the end of an article on bear attacks in the October issue of sports afield. The article is Unnerving Encounters. Author Anthony Acerrano says, “Of course there are situations when the spray isn’t feasible. Especially during a instant charge or attack, where the bear suddenly bursts ipon you.”

    “We don’t tell people, if they’ve got a gun and are being charged by a grizzly, to drop the gun and use bear spray. That’s nonsense,” says Servheen.

    “In a situation where you come upon a bear and it gives you a quick charge, if you’ve got a weapon you should use it. Self-defense is certainly reasonable.”

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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