On the evening of September 30, a sow grizzly bear charged an elk hunter in thick timber near Henry’s Lake, Idaho. According to an Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) press release issued this morning, the hunter yelled to alert his partner about the charging bruin before firing several shots from his sidearm that killed the bear “only a short distance way, before it was able to make contact.”
“The hunter immediately called the Citizens Against Poaching hotline to report the incident,” the press release states. “Idaho Department of Fish and Game responded to the call and conducted a thorough investigation. It was determined that the hunter acted in self-defense during a surprise encounter with the bear from a very close distance.”
On Tuesday, September 26, less than one week before the recent Idaho incident, a man shot and killed another charging grizzly in self defense in the Beattie Gulch area of Montana, immediately north of Yellowstone National Park. Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service determined that that bear was “likely acting defensively” when the hunter shot it at close range. As the crow flies, Beattie Gulch is approximately 40 miles southwest of Henry’s Lake, Idaho. Both areas are within the Great Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), where grizzly bears thrive.
Henry’s Lake is about 20 miles north of the community of Island Park, Idaho. Back on September 1, two archery elk hunters had a grizzly bear run-in just west of Island Park. Both men escaped the incident uninjured after discharging their sidearms and killing the surprised bear as it charged toward them.
Most big game seasons in the West are only a month in at this point, but it’s already been a banner year for dangerous grizzly bear encounters in the GYE and other areas known to hold grizzlies. One particularly gruesome attack near the resort town of Big Sky sent a deer hunter to the hospital with a missing lower jaw. On September 12, a man shot and injured a charging grizzly while hunting upland birds near Montana’s Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area. One day later, a whitetail deer hunter nearly lost his trophy buck to a big boar grizzly in the same general area.
In light of Idaho’s most recent grizzly-related incident, IDFG officials are urging hunters to exercise extreme caution while pursing game in the Gem State. “Grizzly bears are protected under State and Federal law, and Fish and Game would like to remind hunters that grizzly bears may be encountered in the Greater Yellowstone area as well as in north Idaho,” the agency said in its Tuesday morning press release. “Carry bear spray and keep it accessible. Hunt with partners and make each other aware of plans. Look for grizzly bear sign, including fresh tracks. Let partners know if you do see sign.”