By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A person was killed early Tuesday morning by a grizzly bear near a small town in northwestern Montana, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.
The bear still hadn’t been caught as of Tuesday morning. A video camera from a local business caught footage of a grizzly on Monday night, and a bear also got into a chicken coop in the area.
“There was an earlier contact with the bear prior to the event,” Sheriff Gavin Roselles told the Associated Press. “The bear basically came back into the campsite. It wandered into a campsite a couple different times.”
The attack occurred at about 3:30am near Ovando, a town of about 50 residents in Montana’s Blackfoot Valley area. Bears are common in the area.
Nearby campers called 911 during the attack and local medical personnel were unsuccessful in reviving the victim.
The bear left the scene, authorities said, after a camper in the area used bear spray.
“Our first concern is the community’s wellbeing. The next step is to find the bear,” FWP spokesman Greg Lemon said.
The identity of the victim was not immediately released and an investigation into the attack was being conducted Tuesday.
Officials didn’t say exactly where the attack occurred, but the local sheriff said other people were camping in the vicinity. Lemon also said the victim was part of a group on a bike trip.
“All indications are that this encounter was with a grizzly bear, and that a team of law enforcement and state wildlife specialists are searching for the bear,” Roselles told NBC Montana.
A team of wildlife and law enforcement personnel have begun a search for the grizzly near the town of Ovando.
“We have traffic control in place for crime scene management and we’re getting ready to look for the bear,” Roselles said. “We’ve alerted campsites in the immediate area, but we don’t anticipate threats to other people in the area. We’re not encouraging people to come into the area.”
In April, a backcountry guide was killed by a grizzly bear while fishing along the Yellowstone National Park border in southwestern Montana.
In 2016, an off-duty U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer was fatally mauled in the region after he collided with a grizzly while mountain biking in Flathead National Forest.
A young black bear was killed by Montana FWP officials in June after breaking into a home while its residents weren’t home.
A woman was killed by a black bear in Colorado earlier this year.