Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks is investigating after three people were injured in two separate Brown Bear attacks in in the Gravelly Mountains in Madison County, on Monday 16 September 2019. The first incident happened at about 7.30 am local time when two hunters from New Mexico stalking Elk with bows were charged without warning by a Bear which knocked down one of the men and began to maul him. His companion used a Bear Spray (aerosol containing capsaicinoids, members of the chemical group that give Chile Peppers their distinctive taste) on the animal, which then turned on him, but retreated after being repeatedly sprayed. Both men recieved hospital treatment in Ennis and were released later the same day.
A Brown Bear, Ursus arctos, in Montana. Getty Images.
The second attack happened at about 6.30 pm when two hunters from Washington, also armed with bows were again charged without warning, with the Bear knocking down and mauling one of them. On this occasion the other hunter shot the Bear with a pistol, causing it to charge him, but break off when shot again. After charging and being shot a further two times the Bear eventually retreated. This incident led to the attacked man receiving more serious head injuries, and being retained in hospital in Butte for several days.
Brown Bears are highly adaptable large omnivores found across much of the Northern Hemisphere. They are extremely flexible in their dietary habits, and able to change their diet in response to Human or other environmental pressures in ways that few other large animals can manage. Whilst Bears have a fearsome reputation, and are rightly treated with great respect by people that share their environment, attacks on humans are exceptionally rare.
The Gravelly Mountains form part of the Yellowstone National Park, where Bears are protected, although a Bear considered to be a risk to Humans can lose this protection and be captured and relocated or even killed if it is thought likely to attack again. However, before any such steps are taken local wildlife authorities will attempt to ascertain whether these were intentional attacks by the Bear, or simply the result of Humans startling a Bear, and indeed if a single Bear was involved in the two separate incidents.
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