Black Bear Bites FWP Employee

By Beacon Staff

HUNGRY HORSE (AP) – A state wildlife technician was bitten on the elbow by a black bear during a trapping operation Tuesday morning in the South Fork of the Flathead River Drainage above Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Clay Miller was treated for his injury at a Whitefish hospital and released, the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a news release.

Miller and fellow employees Rick Mace and Erik Wenum found the bear caught in a foot snare that had been set to trap grizzly bears as part of the Northern Continental Divide grizzly bear monitoring program.

They were approaching the animal with a pole used to administer a tranquilizer drug, when the bear charged to the end of the snare.

The 250-pound bear retreated but charged a second time and escaped from the snare, charged Miller and bit him, the agency said.

Miller pushed the bear aside, and it ran away.

Mace took Miller to the North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, where he was treated with antibiotics and released, the agency said.

FWP said it is investigating the trap site and reviewing the trapping methods used in the project. This is the only human injury sustained during the past two decades of bear monitoring and research in western Montana, the agency said.

Miller is a wildlife technician on the FWP portion of the grizzly bear monitoring project. Mace, a wildlife biologist, is the project leader; and Wenum is the agency’s wildlife conflict specialist.

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