Fourth Montana Grizzly Shot By Hunter Claiming Self-Defense

For the fourth time this year, an outdoorsman in Montana shot and killed a charging grizzly bear, claiming it was in self-defense.

Mark Heinz

October 25, 20232 min read

Grizzly autumn 10 25 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

For the fourth time this year, a grizzly was killed in Montana by someone claiming self-defense after being charged by a bear.

A hunter told wildlife agents that he had to shoot and kill a grizzly Saturday when it charged him during a “close encounter” in the Gravelly Range near Ennis, Montana, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Some other details, such as what type of firearm was used, weren’t available early Wednesday, FWP spokesman Greg Lemon told Cowboy State Daily. The hunter’s name was not released.

Agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has primary jurisdiction over grizzlies in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, are still investigating the case to determine whether it was legitimate self-defense.

The bear was an adult female with no known history of conflict with humans.

“The bear was in good body condition and appeared to be digging a den near where the encounter took place,” according to FWP.

No Grizzly Hunting Season Yet

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have been pushing to have grizzlies delisted from federal protection and to open hunting seasons for the bears. Meanwhile, it remains illegal to kill a grizzly, except in self-defense.

Illegally killing a grizzly comes with stiff penalties, including fines of up to $10,000.

Bad Year For Grizzlies In The Region

There have been several run-ins between hunters, anglers and grizzlies reported in Montana and Idaho this year, including some self-defense shootings of bears. No such incidents have been reported in Wyoming.  

In September, a hunter shot and killed a charging grizzly at close range in the Beattie Gulch area of Montana.  

In late August, two hunters shot and killed a charging female grizzly near Whitefish, Montana — and in the chaos, one of the hunters accidentally shot and wounded the other.

That same month, when a male grizzly charged at two anglers in thick cover along Tom Miner Creek near Livingston, Montana, one of the anglers shot and killed that bear.

In two separate incidents in September and October, Idaho hunters killed grizzlies that charged them in backcountry near Yellowstone National Park.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter