Grizzly Bear Fatally Shot in Swan Valley

Hunter mistakenly shot threatened animal after mistaking it for a black bear, officials said

By Beacon Staff

A black bear hunter shot and killed a grizzly bear last month in the Swan Valley, apparently mistaking the animal, listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, for a black bear.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks personnel responded to the incident, which occurred May 20 in the Piper Creek drainage in the Swan Valley on U.S. Forest Service land.

The hunter, a man from Pennsylvania, reported the incident to FWP. The adult male grizzly bear weighed 500 pounds and was approximately 18 years old, according to a news release from FWP officials.

The hunter told FWP game wardens that he mistakenly identified the animal as a black bear. The incident occurred during the spring hunting season for black bears, which ended May 31. The individual had a license to hunt black bears.

FWP game wardens investigated the incident in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency in charge of managing grizzlies. The dead bear was removed from the site.

Grizzly bears cannot be legally hunted in Montana. Black bear hunters are required to pass an identification test before purchasing a black bear hunting license. A hunter must present a certification of completion issued by FWP at the time of purchase.

The test is available online at

Wildlife officials reminded hunters to learn how to identify bears, be absolutely sure of their target and, if in doubt, don’t shoot.

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