Pheasant hunter shoots, kills, charging grizzly

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A grizzly sow and her cubs feed in a patch of huckleberries in this file photo.

A pheasant hunter shot and killed a grizzly bear Nov. 4 near Pendroy along the Rocky Mountain Front that charged him after it was surprised by the hunterís bird dog, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Monday.

The incident occurred after the resident hunter had shot a pheasant near an irrigation canal on a farm about two miles southeast of Pendroy, almost 20 miles north of Choteau.

The female grizzly was in a patch of willows along the canal with her three young-of-the-year cubs. She emerged from the willows and charged the hunterís dog. The hunter yelled at the bear, which turned and charged him. The hunter shot in the air once with his 12-gauge shotgun. As the bear continued to charge, the 69-year-old hunter finally shot at the bear twice, hitting it in the chest and face. The final shot came when the animal was within 10 feet.

The bear returned to the willows, where the cubs had remained. The next morning FWP officials went into the willow patch and found the sow dead and the cubs were gone.

The female bear was determined to be 9 years old and weighing about 500 pounds.

In recent years, grizzlies have wandered out onto the prairie away from the Rocky Mountain Front, following irrigation canals and streams and river bottoms, including the Sun, Teton and Marias rivers.

With bird hunting under way, hunters along the Front, especially in riparian areas, need to be aware they are in bear country, FWP said. FWP recommends hunters carry bear spray and be ready to use it at all times. Statistically bear spray offers better personal protection than a firearm when faced with a charging bear.

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