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Woman hurt after being attacked by bear in western Montana

Polebridge Bear Attack.png
Posted at 2:31 PM, Oct 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-02 16:31:11-04

KALISPELL — A woman was taken to the hospital following an encounter with a bear on Sunday near the U.S.-Canada border north of Polebridge.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park (FWP) was informed at approximately 3 p.m. that a woman was attacked along the bank of Trail Creek a few miles west of the North Fork Road.

The 73-year-old victim was flown by A.L.E.R.T. air ambulance to Logan Health Medical Center in Kalispell, according to a news release.

An investigation into the incident is underway and FWP reports wardens and bear specialists are monitoring the site along Trail Creek known as the “Bubble ups” where the creek flows underground before rising to the surface.

The site is closed while the investigation continues. FWP notes it's not known at this time what type of bear was involved.

The victim was on national forestland with her husband and dog when the bear came out of thick brush and attacked her. Her husband used bear spray and the animal moved away from the victim.

They then returned to their vehicle and drove to a location where they could call emergency services.

FWP offers the following precautions to help people who are recreating in the backcountry:

  • 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.
  • If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Leave the area when it is safe to do so.
  • If you are attacked by a bear and you are without a deterrent or the deterrent hasn’t worked, stay face down on the ground, protecting your face and neck with your arms. Stay still until you’re certain the bear has moved away.
  • 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.

FWP advised that hunting in places that have or may have grizzly bears 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 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 processing, 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. If it has been disturbed or if a bear is in the area, leave and call FWP.

For more information and resources on bear safety, visit fwp.mt.gov/bear-aware.