Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Region 1's Wildlife Human Attack Response team responded to a bear attack near Smith Lake north of Whitefish yesterday morning.
Fish & Wildlife issued a press release that reported a father and son from the Flathead Valley were taken via ALERT Air Ambulance to Kalispell Regional Medical Center for treatment after a grizzly bear attacked them at very close range.
The father and son were hunting near a gated road in the King Creek drainage when the grizzly charged out of a thick, wooded area, inflicting significant injuries on the men before they were able to shoot and kill the bear.
"Based on the evidence gathered at the scene and interviews with the victims, we believe this was a surprise encounter involving an adult female grizzly bear defending a food source and her offspring," FWP Regional Game Warden Captain Lee Anderson said.
FWP offered the following general tips to help stay safe:
- Carry and know how to use bear spray.
- Stay alert and look for bear activity, especially where visibility and hearing are limited.
- Hiking in a group will decrease the chances of surprising a bear. A group of people is more likely to deter an encounter, and bears will be able to see, hear, and smell the people more easily.
- Make your presence known by making noise, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low.
- This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
- Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.
- Avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations.
- Hunters should be prepared to cut up the carcass of a harvested animal in the dark by carrying strong headlamps. Be extra vigilant and watch for bears.