Elk NetworkGrizzly that Previously Killed Woman Euthanized After Home Break-In

General | September 8, 2023

Below is a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

A grizzly bear with a history of conflict with people was euthanized after breaking into a house near West Yellowstone, Montana.

Early Saturday morning, a homeowner reported a bear with a cub broke through a kitchen window of an occupied home and removed a container of dog food from inside the house.

Later that evening, staff from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and local law enforcement captured the cub, and, with authorization from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, shot the adult grizzly near the captured cub due to an immediate public safety threat from the bear’s food-conditioned behavior.

The 10-year-old female grizzly had originally been captured in 2017 for research purposes. Through genetic analysis and other identifying characteristics, staff confirmed the bear was involved in a fatal attack on a woman near West Yellowstone in July. The bear was also involved in an encounter in Idaho that injured a person near Henrys Lake State Park in Idaho in 2020. Both incidents were evaluated carefully at the time and deemed to be defensive responses by the bear. Multiple efforts to trap and remove the bear were made after the fatal attack in July due to the incident’s proximity to residences, campgrounds, and high-use OHV trails. These efforts were unsuccessful.

The cub, a 46-pound male, is being held at FWP’s wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena while arrangements are made to transfer the cub to a zoo in the coming weeks.

Be bear aware

Montana is bear country. Grizzly bear populations continue to become denser and more widespread in Montana, increasing the likelihood that residents and recreationists will encounter them in more places each year.

This time of year is when bears are active for longer periods as they consume more food in preparation for hibernation. This period overlaps with hunting season and other fall recreation activities.

Avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with such conflicts. Here are some precautions to help residents, recreationists and people who work outdoors avoid negative bear encounters:

  • Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.
  • Make noise to alert bears to your presence and travel in groups.
  • Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
  • Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
  • Keep garbage, bird feeders, pet food and other attractants put away in a secure building. Keep garbage in a secure building until the day it is collected. Certified bear-resistant garbage containers are available in many areas.
  • Never feed wildlife. Bears that become food conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose threats to human safety. It is illegal to feed bears in Montana.

People who hunt in places that have or may have grizzly bears—which includes areas of Montana west of Billings—should take special precautions:

  • Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.
  • Look for bear sign and be cautious around creeks and areas with limited visibility.
  • Hunt with a group of people. Making localized noise can help alert bears to your presence.
  • Be aware that elk calls and cover scents can attract bears.
  • Bring the equipment and people needed to help field dress game and remove the meat from the kill site as soon as possible.
  • If you need to leave part of the meat in the field during retrieval, hang it at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 150 yards from the gut pile. Leave it where it can be observed from a distance of at least 200 yards.
  • Upon your return, observe the meat with binoculars. Make noise while approaching the meat. If it has been disturbed or if a bear is in the area, leave and call FWP.

(Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks)