Pickup truck kills huge grizzly bear near Lincoln, Mountana

A 700 pound grizzly (huge for the interior Rocky Mountains) was hit and killed by a pickup truck on Highway 200 not far from Lincoln, Montana.

This is in the NCDE grizzly recovery area, not the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Story: Pickup truck kills 700-pound griz near Lincoln. By John Cramer. Missoulian

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Update. Nov. 6. Grizzly Killed by Pickup: The Photos. New West. By Matthew Frank.

Update. Dec. 12. Folks in Montana have tug-of-war over display of giant grizzly. By Kark Puckett. Great Falls Tribune. It turns out the bear was not 700 pounds, but well over 800 pounds!

Update. Dec. 14. The big griz will be mounted and displayed in the Lincoln Ranger District Office (US Forest Service). By Larry Kline. Helena Independent Record.

Note: this is one of the most visited posts on the blog. There is a lot of misinformation about where this bear was killed. It was near Lincoln, Montana. That’s north of Helena. If you are old enough, you might remember the “unibomber” lived near Lincoln. The area has long been known as grizzly bear country.






  1. Carolyn Avatar

    I’m not judging the driver (as there really isn’t much info about the events that lead to this accident) but I sure wish people would slow down on our highways. Very sad.

  2. kim kaiser Avatar
  3. Dave Avatar

    I am pretty sure this was an accident ! How many time a year does a grizzly attack humans on purpose?! The numbers are way up this year. Grizzlys have alot of areas where they can survive without getting close to civilization (Man). For all we know, the griz was attacking the truck! It is also a shame when some hiker gets mauled by a Grizzly. The arument is, “Man has no business being in the wild”. The sad truth is, The grizzly has no business being on a highway either!

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Of course it was an accident. You are most certainly correct.

    However, from the rest of your post I don’t think you know much about Lincoln, MT, highway 200 or the country around it.

  5. kim kaiser Avatar

    “The sad truth is, The grizzly has no business being on a highway either!”

    surely you jest!!!do you expect a grizzly to read a sign that says no grizzlies,, how the heck do you expect them to not wander for heavens sake,, they cant read, or follow maps,,!!!!!

  6. TallTrent Avatar

    The area around Lincoln, Montana is the only place left on the historic Lewis and Clark Trail that has grizzly bears and this is only because they have managed to come down from further up the continental divide. It is definitely sad anytime lose a griz this way. Wildlife overpasses and underpasses definitely need to be explored in grizzly country and elsewhere.

  7. Dave Avatar

    Ok, does there have to be signs that grizzlys can read? Like maybe the fact that people drive cars on highways? Or maybe Humans are not grizzly food? The sad fact is; Grizzlies are getting too close for comfort to where humans live. I do agree It is definitely sad anytime lose a griz this way. I know grizzlies can’t read signs, although they do know where humans are and should stay away from these areas. And to Ralph, I have hunted areas all around Lincoln Montana I can tell you where to find gold, Elk, Deer Old log slides, Wolves and yes grizzlies. Grizzlies have a keen sense of smell and should know by the smell of exaust coming from the highway, it is dangerous for grizzlies to tred there. It is also a sad fact that grizzly attacks are becoming more and more of a problem. Dupuyer is a small town where they walk right through a relative of mines’ back yard. A man was trampled by one a few days ago there. I will say, if I hit a grizzly in my vehicle, I would’t stop to see if it was ok, but I would call the fish and game office and let them know when and where It happened. The small town of lincoln is or at least in recent past was, the only place where it has its own regulations for hunting deer and elk right in town! This could be a problem also. In closing lets not talk about the grizzly as a stupid animal. They know where they are better than man!

  8. jerry black Avatar
    jerry black

    Highway 200 is a death trap for all kinds of wildlife…elk, bear, deer, wolves etc. Add that to the fact that it’s still “macho” and a status symbol to have the biggest, baddest, fastest truck speeding down 200 in the dark.
    Saw a great bumper sticker the other day….”Big Truck, Little Dick/Brain” I doubt the guy realized his girlfriend put it on there.
    The highway dept is talking about installing some wildlife crossing tunnels…they’re badly needed.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Good, Dave. You do know the area and the Rocky Mountain Front.

    That was an odd first post you made on the subject. At least I thought so.

    A final word, yes grizzlies are smart animals. So are people. Both get run over, often no fault of their own. Often no real fault (meaning intent) by anyone.

  10. Dave Avatar

    Well now they are saying from DNA testing, it is believed this bear may be the one who has been breaking into cabins in the area. hmmmmmmm? I wonder if he may be getting too close to humans hence getting hit by a truck or car? Ya Think? The problem starts when the fish and game catches these wild animals tags and studies or whatever they do, then lets them go. Ponder on this. The blame may be further back than we even know. Basically the problem is bears are not scared of man anymore. This is definately mans fault, not the bear. What do we do about this? I read on a study of fish that where caught and released. The one who got caught and released would lose there fear of movements above the water. We need to leave the bears alone! we need to stop catching them and trying to move them to better areas or studying/tagging them. We need the bears to run away when they hear a bell ringing instead of attacking! Lets get real. We need the bears to be afraid of man for man and the bears benefit.

  11. Josh Avatar

    I was in Lincoln when this happened. It was definitely the talk of the town. Man what a huge animal. I seen some pictures of this bear after and before the accident. The before was from right outside someones cabin or i should say permanent residence. How would ya like that thing roaming around your yard. If you want to see pictures just go to Lamkins Resturaunt, that’s where i seen them. It will amaze you.

  12. chris h Avatar
    chris h

    The problem is not Ursus arctos moving into area inhabited by humans, it’s the other way around – civilization encroaching into bear (or wolf or elk or whatever) habitat.

    The bear hit by the truck was an accident. The bear should not be on the road and the driver was probably going to fast to stop. (Part of my job is training people to drive cars and/or trucks, another part is to determine which party, if any, was at fault for accidents). Driving on roads like 200 one should expect animals (any animal-not just bears) to either be on the road or trying to cross the road. The bear in the road is not an valid excuse. In place of “bear on the road” insert “hiker” or “hunter”. Hikers and hunters or kids should not be on a road or crossing in areas that are not safe to do so. But this can and does occur.

    If you live in such an environment, you sould expect that wild animals will potentially be present and that some of them probably don’t like people around for reasons that most people cannot fathom but in reality are perfectly valid.

    It’s sad that grizz attacks occur and that bears get killed. However, circumstances will (most of the time) that people made a bad judgement on how to do what they are doing.
    That is what makes us human. I have been in such situations before, notably two cougars in New Mexico. My dog, Chama, and I were lucky they did not attack, and they were lucky I do not own or carry a gun.

    Never underestimate the power of good (or ) bad luck!

  13. skyrim Avatar

    Josh, Do you perhaps have family up in the Lincoln area?

  14. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Chris I couldn’t agree with you more . . I think I just met you this weekend .. If I did email me as I didn’t get your email or misplaced it. (owltrack@pocketmail.com). Dave the idea that bears need to fear man is an old outdated adage that needs to be modified. . true people around bears need to be careful that bears don’t learn that they are a pushover, or a source of food if intimidated but new studies have shown that cohabitated bears are less dangerous to people. People who live in bear country should read the report that can be found at:
    http://www.wildraven.net/carnivores/ursidae/grizzly/habituation/report.html Now that most people have an understanding that they shouldn’t feed bears (or racoons for that matter) they need to take their understanding to the next level and understand how to live around bears safely. Just hunting them is not the answer as they found with potentially dangerous animals in Africa. If we kill everything we are afraid of (including spiders and snakes) the environment we live in will not support us either in the long run.

  15. Michael Fuller Avatar
    Michael Fuller

    It was an unfortunate accident. We are having quite a black bear problem here in North Florida. The bear hunting season was suspended in the 1990’s and now the bears have expanded theit territory into populated areas in search of fooc and shelter.

    There are several vehicle bear incidents in Florida every year as a result of the over population.

  16. Brian Sims Avatar
    Brian Sims

    Poor guy. Big machinery shouldn’t be near our wilds.

  17. JB Avatar


    I’m not sure the analogy to fish works in this case. The catching/tagging/releasing process is not pleasant for the animals and, if anything, should render it more fearful of humans–not less so. Imagine being shot in the ass with a dart, then manhandled while your immobilized, including having your blood drawn and a collar strapped around your neck. I can’t imagine that such an experience makes a bear more likely to seek the company of human beings.


  18. Denise Avatar

    My father lives in montana, and I love it out there. but come on a Grizzly wondered onto a road, if the gut had not been speeding, I have seen how fast they go. and then “he hit something, didn’t know what and decided when his radiator was shot he turned around.” OH COME ON!!! isn’t that HIT AND RUN!!!!! what if it was someone!!! and not a grizzly???? isn;t a bear important??? you hit simething MORON STOP!!!!!! If we stopped building and live in what we have and let them have their homes they might stay put!!!

    As far as the bear being in cabins of course he was he was in a zoo for 12 years or so, so he was hungry!!! and he is used to be feed. and even the wild ones, we feed them thinking this is so cute and then when we think they are getting to close we have them destroyed….. I have an idea just leave them alone and then they might be safe….

    In Georgia, I don’t have half as much wildlife as you do and I am jealous. I drive across country and enjoy it out west. I envy you, and some of you are just wasting it.


  19. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Denise wrote “In Georgia, I don’t have half as much wildlife as you do and I am jealous. I drive across country and enjoy it out west. I envy you, and some of you are just wasting it.”

    Denise, you’ve perfectly described the difference between the appreciation of wildlife, such as you experience, and the attitude of so many in the mountainous west that think of much of wildlife as being nuisances, problem animals, unwanted predators, obstacles to real estate and oil and gas development, mineral extraction, logging, threats to privately owned livestock, etc.

    Our wildlife are one of our most valuable resources and should be respected as such.

    Thank God for the U.S. court system and the power of the vote (usually…!).

  20. Grizzlykiller Avatar

    Seems to me that the State of Montana as well as the State of Wyoming should allow Grizzly hunting.
    There is no reason to not allow a hunt in a number of areas.
    There is certainly no shortage of bears in quite a few areas and there are obviously some large males running around. A 700 pound grizzly is a fine specimen anywhere. I’m curious what the skull dimensions are on this animal killed by a truck.
    Why would anyone propose spending money on highway crossings for bears to use?
    Why not let hunters harvest some of these animals and save the tax payers of the State a bit of money?

  21. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    As I hunter, I will say I believe hunters should eat what they kill, without exception. You kill a ground squirrel, you eat it.

    Trophy hunting takes out the largest of the species, the animals with the most desirable genes that are most likely to breed and the knowledge and experience that comes with surviving as long as they have.

    I believe that trophy hunting is sick and those that kill for only the trophy have emotional and/or mental problems.

    A friend of mine, who is opposed to all hunting, says trophy hunters use guns to compensate for their small penises…!

  22. Jim Moore Avatar
    Jim Moore

    Interesting what Michael Fuller of Florida says: “There are several vehicle bear incidents in Florida every year as a result of the over population.”

    With all the human created environmental problems that we hear about daily, I’ve been thinking the same thing about over population bing the cause. It looks like we can blame the bears! They are the root of all evil.

  23. Lee Lipscomb Avatar
    Lee Lipscomb

    This record size animal could not have grown so large without a diet involving garbage or some food source caused by humans.This familiarity with humans is the unfortunate reason for his death.This species,unlike the black bear,usually lives far from society.To blame the driver is ridiculous.Bye the way not one posting above this one expressed any sympathy or appreciation for the fact the driver was uninjured in this accident.This posting is by a bear hunter.

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I don’t think the news I saw or any comment posted here mentioned anything about the driver.

    I’m glad he or she was not injured.

    I think when it comes to a collision with a vehicle and a large animal, no one is ever happy about it. Some of these accidents are unavoidable, but for the safety of all, people should be aware of the places animals cross, time of day, etc.

    The highway departments can also do a better job at facilitating the safe crossing of animals and blocking passage at inherently unsafe locations and giving drivers information that helps them be aware

  25. sal Avatar

    come on a Grizzly wondered onto a road, if the guy had not been speeding, I have seen how fast they go. and then “he hit something, didn’t know what and decided when his radiator was shot he turned around.” OH COME ON!!! isn’t that HIT AND RUN!!!!! what if it was someone!!! and not a grizzly???? isn’t a bear important??? you hit something MORON STOP!!!!!! If we stopped building and live in what we have and let them [wildlife/bears] have their homes they might stay put!!!

    As a retired driver (of all vehicles-class and size for over twenty years), I second that remark.

    Problem is, people like to “put” themselves where the wildlife is and then complain when they discover that it isn’t exactly Disneyland. The wildlife is already “put” in the last few places there are, we just keep claiming more of it all the time–kind of like what we European-Americans did to the people who were already here before we “came careening into town”. Now it’s the animals and the forests that “have to go” too.

  26. Brian Sims Avatar
    Brian Sims

    Anyone who intentionally kills a bear is a coward. This I am sure was an accident.

  27. Lee Nichols Avatar
    Lee Nichols

    I’m not sure how anyone hit’s a 700 lb anything & not know what they hit? I find that difficult to believe. And why didn’t he/she stop immediately? Rather then wait until the radiator failed? Sounds strange but then again I wasn’t there & have no idea how it went down.

    For those co-existing with nature – remember a fed bear is a dead bear… In Yosemite you will receive a HUGE fine if a bear breaks into your vehicle which means you left something in there that attracted the bear in the first place. They have an incredible sense of smell.

    One could really say a fed wild animal is a dead wild animal as you’re teaching it by association & you are creating a huge problem for you & endangering the animal.

    I DO see the attraction of living in the woods, finding a harmonious way that will not endanger the animals & create problems would be a very good thing to do.

  28. sexy sonia Avatar
    sexy sonia

    well i think that it was not the grizzlies fault us as humans are building and devolping too much maybe we are in their territory so i think people should be more careful and the should reduce speed on highways

  29. windymesa Avatar

    sonia… you are so right… I think we should give this country back to the bears, and the native americans, and the rest of should leave and go whereever it is we came from. We must return this country to it’s virginity.

  30. savage Avatar

    animals being hit on roads has been going on for a long time. its become part of the natural cycle…

    we dont need anymore roads : )

  31. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    I was curious about this still being a top post. That ranger station is going to have a lot of visiters once the giant grizz gets there. It’s good to see how many folks have expressed interest and that it will stay in Lincoln. The children will certainly be impressed!!!

  32. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This post has had an amazingly long life and total visitation

  33. Jim Avatar

    I am not taking sides. I train the worlds best drivers. Drivers I train work as driver specialists for world leaders in 156 countries. I teach every scenerio and we build driver strategy as well as deconstruct poor driving.

    I believe the pick-up that hit the bear had headlights that needed adjustment. Headlights that have been bumped or seen any abuse easily move and loose their effectiveness. When you add in 55mph or better you simply will not see a bear of that color or even if it was orange early enough to react safely.

    Nobody ever seems to have their headlights readjusted anywhere in the country anymore. . .yet night driving represents 20% of every drivers driving.

    If the bear was hit in morning darkness then I beleive this is where to start looking for reasons this occurred.

  34. Amy Avatar

    We don’t leave as much land for the animals as you think. In the past decade animals/human encounters are increasing. We can’t say we are coexisting with these animals when we leave nothing for them. A four year study with 1700 scientists and 71 countries shows an accelerated decline of all living creatures and their ecosystems. We as humans take and take from this world and the animals are the ones suffering. I think it horrible. As far as animal attacks, if an animal changes its behavior when people are around then the people are to close, there is always a reason they attack and its usually fear!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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