MISSOULA — Federal and state wildlife officials are investigating three recent grizzly bear deaths in northwestern Montana including one bear that a homeowner said had been shot and partially skinned.
Grizzly bears are a threatened species and killing or injuring one of the animals can result in criminal charges.
Yaak resident Wynne Zellmer told the Missoulian that he found a dead bear in his driveway late last month that was partially skinned. Zellmer says the legs were taken off up to the belly and the bear had a bullet hole in it. The nearby Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem has only about 50 grizzlies.
State game wardens also have been investigating the death of two grizzly bears near Bigfork. The carcasses of an adult female bear and a yearling were found on a road near Montana Highway 83 on Nov. 9.
Ecologist and author Cristina Eisenberg posted on social media that the animals had been killed and dumped near her house.
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