On Wednesday, June 24th, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist had an unexpected encounter with a grizzly bear. Though details remain limited at this time, here’s what the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks released:
A biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was attacked by a grizzly bear in the Centennial Valley Wednesday morning. The individual suffered serious bite wounds but is expected to recover fully.
The USFWS employee was working on a sage grouse monitoring project on Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge about a mile west of Elk Lake. The biologist heard a noise in the sagebrush and turned to see two grizzly bears in a close-encounter situation, approximately 80 to 100 yards away.
One bear stood up, and the other charged the biologist. The biologist deployed bear spray at the charging bear and throughout the attack until the attacking bear ran away with the other bear.
The biologist began leaving the site while reporting the incident to other USFWS staff, who came and helped the individual get medical attention. The biologist was transported to Rexburg, Idaho, for medical treatment and was released later Wednesday afternoon.
The biologist’s report indicates the bears may have been young siblings around three years old. Idaho Fish & Game assisted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) in the early stages of the investigation, which is still ongoing.
We’re glad that this biologist is going to make a full recovery, and we’re extremely impressed with the individual’s wherewithal to properly deploy bear spray when it was needed. This biologist was equipped with functional bear spray, was carrying it in an easily-accessible location, and was trained in how to use it. There’s no doubt that this preparedness prevented a more dire outcome for both parties.
This incident is further evidence that carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it is a critical element of working or playing outdoors in the Rockies.