HELENA – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has launched an investigation into the death of two grizzly bears believed to be killed by black bear hunters along Rocky Mountain Front last week.
Grizzly bears are a federally protected species.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks confirmed Tuesday that one male and one female grizzly were killed by hunters west of Great Falls, the Independent Record reported. No cubs were found.
The circumstances surrounding the bears’ deaths were not immediately available, state officials said.
Federal investigators declined to comment on where the incidents occurred, if charges were filed or if either hunter is claiming self-defense.
“USFWS is working closely with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to investigate these incidents,” federal agency spokesman Joe Szuszwalak said. “Due to the sensitive nature of an ongoing investigation we are unable to release any further information at this time.”
More information may be released at a later date, he said.
The agency has said grizzly bears have expanded their range in recent years, and that it is the responsibility of black bear hunters to correctly identify the species.
Black bear hunters must pass a bear identification test in order to hunt bears in Montana.
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