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Officials Investigating 3 Human-Caused Grizzly Bear Deaths In Southwest Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating several recent human-caused grizzly bear deaths in southwest Montana. 

A hunter reportedly shot a grizzly bear in self-defense in the south Gravelly Mountains Saturday afternoon. The hunter was uninjured and reported the incident to FWP.

Spokesperson Morgan Jacobsen says further details are unavailable as the investigation is ongoing. This is the fourth human-bear conflict in the Gravelly Mountains this year. In September, four people were attacked in three separate incidents.

“Bears are still active this time of year, and in fact grizzly bears can be active at varying levels throughout the winter. People should still practice all the safety precautions that we talk about -- hunting with a partner, carrying bear spray, just having situational awareness of where you are,” Jacobsen said. 

FWP and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are also investigating two other human-caused grizzly bear mortalities that happened last week in the West Yellowstone area.

One of the bear carcasses is located near the Axolotl Lake or Red Cub Trail in the Hebgen Lake Ranger District. Custer Gallatin National Forest announced Monday an emergency closure for a one mile stretch of the trail while the investigation into the bear death continues.

Last week, FWP euthanized a 350-pound adult female grizzly bear in the town of Ferndale, east of Big Fork. FWP had previously captured and relocated the bear in early October after it broke into chicken coops.