Griz Attacks and Kills Bicyclist in Montana

JASmith

Member
Region
USA
I can only imagine the horror, what a horrible way to go. Rather than reactive responses I would ask if its feasible to put trackers on the bears to avoid future confrontation. I understand they are endangered and there are are less than 2K grizzlies left in the entire United States, so if a good portion can be tracked it would then make it easier to tag the cubs of the next generation, and eventually get them all. Then we could have an app that warns people of their location to better coexist and for park rangers to police. I also assume they were unarmed, as the story indicates that they were actually aware of the bear from prior visits to the campsite before the bear finally attacked them in their tents. As a safety moment learning lesson, it may be wise for at least a few in the group to carry a 10mm Glock with a decent light as they are reasonably lightweight to pack if in bear country. They say not to fire warning shots though as they don't always work and the bears run too fast, so to just walk backwards and use other avoidance techniques before being forced to shoot if it does charge.
 

EMGX

Well-Known Member

Bear spray has been shown to be a more effective deterrent in bear attacks than guns. I've motorcycled in Alaska and Montana as well as Washington and Oregon, been within yards of bears in Alaska (grizzly and black bear) and encountered large black bear at a fair distance hiking in Washington. It is unnerving to be close to one that is obviously studying you. I make it a point to carry bear spray when hiking and have carried it in easy reach while doing some bicycle touring in Idaho and eastern Oregon.
 
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JASmith

Member
Region
USA

Bear spray has been shown to be a more effective deterrent in bear attacks than guns. I've motorcycled in Alaska and Montana as well as Washington and Oregon, been within yards of bears both in Alaska (grizzly and black bear) and encountered large black bear at a fair distance hiking in Washington. It is unnerving to be close to one that is obviously studying you. I make it a point to carry bear spray when hiking and have carried it in easy reach while doing some bicycle touring in Idaho and eastern Oregon.
That's scary! Only encounter we ever had was seeing a single cub on our path, actually got a picture of it while walking backwards will see if I can find it and upload.

Good point, probably good idea to have both, spray in off-hand, pistol in dominant hand during an encounter. Problem with bear spray is you can end up taking yourself out if its windy, and in this case in particular they were inside a tent when attacked and while you can shoot through a tent you can't spray through one, and you may only get one good shot vs 15 per magazine. Good thing with spray if you are upwind or its very calm is that its hard to miss for inexperienced shooters since they make a big fog, but the bad thing is that bear spray is a great deterrent to bears that are curious or rummaging through your stuff and not necessarily one that is aggressively hunting you or protecting its young. That's also the issue with the statistics that has been frequently brought up, is that bear spray is used far more commonly even on bears that are merely being curious or annoying and not remotely aggressive, whereas shootings are typically only a last resort to an actual attacking bear and not all reported since you have to fill out a defense report when killing which will be investigated so some may just leave the scene after and not self-report at all.

In any case, anything is certainly better than nothing, and if they had sprayed in the direction of the bear on the first encounter maybe it would have never come back.
 

Prairie Dog

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Red Deer
Definitely a wake up call for anyone hiking or biking in the back country. We’re set to road cycle the David Thompson Corridor in Clearwater Country tomorrow and will be vigilant of bears that occasionally prowl the forestry roads along that stretch of road. Will have bear spray and an air horn on hand just in case even though we'll be on the hwy. Our encounter with that grizzly along the 1A outside of Banff last week was too close for comfort. 🐻
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
Good point, probably good idea to have both, spray in off-hand, pistol in dominant hand during an encounter. Problem with bear spray is you can end up taking yourself out if its windy, and in this case in particular they were inside a tent when attacked and while you can shoot through a tent you can't spray through one, and you may only get one good shot vs 15 per magazine. Good thing with spray if you are upwind or its very calm is that its hard to miss for inexperienced shooters since they make a big fog, but the bad thing is that bear spray is a great deterrent to bears that are curious or rummaging through your stuff and not necessarily one that is aggressively hunting you or protecting its young. That's also the issue with the statistics that has been frequently brought up, is that bear spray is used far more commonly even on bears that are merely being curious or annoying and not remotely aggressive, whereas shootings are typically only a last resort to an actual attacking bear and not all reported since you have to fill out a defense report when killing which will be investigated so some may just leave the scene after and not self-report at all.

In any case, anything is certainly better than nothing, and if they had sprayed in the direction of the bear on the first encounter maybe it would have never come back.
If you carefully read the article, it becomes obvious that the bear was habituated to humans and was obviously interested in some food source in the area and humans were getting in the way. Once a bear is habituated the inevitable result is a dead bear and possibly injured or dead humans.

The article says that the bear came to the campsite several a couple of different times before the fatal attack. My question is why in blazes didn't the campers just leave if a bear was nosing around? Bears don't randomly wander into campsites or for that matter any area where people are common -- they are there for a reason and that reason was most likely food. There was also a related report in the article that a bear had "got into" a chicken coop. So this was obviously a bear habituated to humans.

Bear spray has a very short effective range, and bear attacks typically take as long as a sneeze. And any pistol a normal person is likely to carry is only going to piss a bear off. Also if the environment is so high-threat that you'd have to walk around carrying bear spray in one hand and a pistol in the other it again begs the question of why you didn't just relocate to someplace safer?

Again, a pistol versus a griz is a bad idea, unless you are insane and packing a Desert Eagle. People who know their stuff know that a 12-gauge shotgun with slugs or a large-caliber big game rifle with rounds over 400 (e.g. a 470 nitro) are your best bets for stopping an attacking bear. Note that it is difficult to train properly with such a weapon (a big-game hunting rifle) as the recoil is wicked and they are insanely loud, so if you overtrain your reflexes kick in and you tend to flinch when firing, which does little for accuracy. In any event you are unlikely to get off more than one shot before the bear is on you, and you aren't going to have time to engage the sights.
 

JASmith

Member
Region
USA
If you carefully read the article, it becomes obvious that the bear was habituated to humans and was obviously interested in some food source in the area and humans were getting in the way. Once a bear is habituated the inevitable result is a dead bear and possibly injured or dead humans.
Smart people can be pretty ignorant about specific things that seem like common sense if its something they just don't have a lot of experience with.
Bear spray has a very short effective range, and bear attacks typically take as long as a sneeze. And any pistol a normal person is likely to carry is only going to piss a bear off. Also if the environment is so high-threat that you'd have to walk around carrying bear spray in one hand and a pistol in the other it again begs the question of why you didn't just relocate to someplace safer?
It depends, they have some sprays that can reach out a little further, and they say pick a brand that can fire for at least seven seconds continuously. I thought it was pretty obvious that no one is going to walk around with either bear spray or a pistol drawn at all times, be serious. The idea is that the moment you see a bear you draw rather than wait to determine the bear's intentions. A bear charge is very fast, but there's often a bit of time to drawn upon first siting a bear. If there's no time the response depends upon the type of bear, but I believe grizzly you are supposed to make yourself small, and either fire the spray behind you while balled up or shoot from retention. That's assuming you're the target, as you may be a responder assisting someone that is being attacked in your group.
Again, a pistol versus a griz is a bad idea, unless you are insane and packing a Desert Eagle. People who know their stuff know that a 12-gauge shotgun with slugs or a large-caliber big game rifle with rounds over 400 (e.g. a 470 nitro) are your best bets for stopping an attacking bear. Note that it is difficult to train properly with such a weapon (a big-game hunting rifle) as the recoil is wicked and they are insanely loud, so if you overtrain your reflexes kick in and you tend to flinch when firing, which does little for accuracy. In any event you are unlikely to get off more than one shot before the bear is on you, and you aren't going to have time to engage the sights.
You're watching too many Hollywood movies, as no one outside of the movies carries around a Desert Eagle, lmao! Not only are they too big to hold and carry, but if you touch the floating magazine on the bottom its going to jam after the first shot! I'm not that big and can handle a Glock 20 without issue, and they are used to take down large game. If you want to carry a rifle that's fine, but I believe the statistics show that pistols are more effective in stopping bear attacks than rifles, likely because they are so much faster to draw and fire rapidly. Rifles have greater effective range, but no one should be shooting a bear with a scope and still having the right to call it self-defense.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Again, a pistol versus a griz is a bad idea, unless you are insane and packing a Desert Eagle. People who know their stuff know that a 12-gauge shotgun with slugs or a large-caliber big game rifle with rounds over 400 (e.g. a 470 nitro) are your best bets for stopping an attacking bear. Note that it is difficult to train properly with such a weapon (a big-game hunting rifle) as the recoil is wicked and they are insanely loud, so if you overtrain your reflexes kick in and you tend to flinch when firing, which does little for accuracy. In any event you are unlikely to get off more than one shot before the bear is on you, and you aren't going to have time to engage the sights.
The US Army 45 caliber automatic comes to mind. Target the head: grizzlies have a big one. Going to shoot, shoot to kill. My master sergeant co-worker loaded 45 hollow points. 44 magnum of the eagle has too much range for self-protection. Shotguns are too clumsy & heavy to sleep with.
I've been practicing no-sights shooting at mice in the kitchen at the garbage with a bb pistol. Works, I never see them anymore. I've hit a couple. I sit here at the computer screen with visibility of the garbage. Range 10 feet. Steel front cabinets back them up. Wear safety glasses indoors. Go outside & eat worms, mice. My wood house won't keep them out, they chew holes.
I really disdain the re-wilding movement. Grizzlies, wolves, mountain lions were exterminated from the lower 48 states at one point. Lets keep it that way. I won't be touring in a steel SUV around Montana or Idaho, but my cargo bicycle is a option. Sleeping in motels is not an option post - covid; I couldn't find a vacancy in Missouri 5/28.
Bear spray is not an option inside a tent. Proximity sensors in a perimater just outside are, to warn the sleeper that 4 legged or 2 legged critters are preparing to attack.
 
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reed scott

Well-Known Member
I have a tremendous respect ( and fear of ) large bears. Exactly as I would have of lions and tigers if on foot or exposed in their habitat. Years ago when I lived in northern Idaho for a year I became enamored of huckleberry ice cream and smoothies. A good friend living in the same fish camp/snowbird encampment suggested we go pick our own berries as he knew where a big berry patch was. Great idea thought I, like an idiot. So we hopped in his truck and took a dirt road up into the mountains surrounding the lake. At about 2000 ft up we passed a huge 4 ft by 8 ft sign with detailed information about grizzly bears and that we were in THEIR territory. And we were headed to a berry patch loaded with literally bushels of succulent ripe huckleberries. The next two hours of berry picking were two of the most stressful hours of my life. But hey, the huckleberry smoothies were fantastic the next two months. 🙄
 

reed scott

Well-Known Member
Smart people can be pretty ignorant about specific things that seem like common sense if its something they just don't have a lot of experience with.

It depends, they have some sprays that can reach out a little further, and they say pick a brand that can fire for at least seven seconds continuously. I thought it was pretty obvious that no one is going to walk around with either bear spray or a pistol drawn at all times, be serious. The idea is that the moment you see a bear you draw rather than wait to determine the bear's intentions. A bear charge is very fast, but there's often a bit of time to drawn upon first siting a bear. If there's no time the response depends upon the type of bear, but I believe grizzly you are supposed to make yourself small, and either fire the spray behind you while balled up or shoot from retention. That's assuming you're the target, as you may be a responder assisting someone that is being attacked in your group.

You're watching too many Hollywood movies, as no one outside of the movies carries around a Desert Eagle, lmao! Not only are they too big to hold and carry, but if you touch the floating magazine on the bottom its going to jam after the first shot! I'm not that big and can handle a Glock 20 without issue, and they are used to take down large game. If you want to carry a rifle that's fine, but I believe the statistics show that pistols are more effective in stopping bear attacks than rifles, likely because they are so much faster to draw and fire rapidly. Rifles have greater effective range, but no one should be shooting a bear with a scope and still having the right to call it self-defense.
Holy Moly! She's gorgeous and she digs guns. Oh to be young and eager again! :p

(not really, at least some wisdom comes with age and even self control) ;)
 

JASmith

Member
Region
USA
I really disdain the re-wilding movement. Grizzlies, wolves, mountain lions were exterminated from the lower 48 states at one point. Lets keep it that way. I won't be touring in a steel SUV around Montana or Idaho, but my cargo bicycle is a option. Sleeping in motels is not an option post - covid; I couldn't find a vacancy in Missouri 5/28.
Gotta disagree with you there, and I think its very important. Hunters cannot replace natural predators, as human hunters if anything tend to target the exact OPPOSITE of the animals they should be culling. No one wants to hunt the old and feeble deer for example, they go for the biggest strongest alpha buck they can find, which is actually detrimental to the gene pool. Same thing with sharks in the ocean, sharks prey on the weakest, which keeps the gene pool of the fish population much healthier than humans that fish indiscriminately or targeting just commercially viable fish. Predators are important, and we are top predators ourselves and so just need to be smart about defending ourselves.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
It's very often the morons that think it's OK to feed them (or ANY other wild animal), when actually that's just about the worst thing that can happen to them. Try delivering that message to some well intended jerks....
 

reed scott

Well-Known Member
Gotta disagree with you there, and I think its very important. Hunters cannot replace natural predators, as human hunters if anything tend to target the exact OPPOSITE of the animals they should be culling. No one wants to hunt the old and feeble deer for example, they go for the biggest strongest alpha buck they can find, which is actually detrimental to the gene pool. Same thing with sharks in the ocean, sharks prey on the weakest, which keeps the gene pool of the fish population much healthier than humans that fish indiscriminately or targeting just commercially viable fish. Predators are important, and we are top predators ourselves and so just need to be smart about defending ourselves.
You are correct in your assessments regarding unmanaged lands or areas where poaching cannot be controlled but ....

I just retired from 12 years managing 20k acres of deer leases amongst my other duties as a ranch manager here in SW Texas. Texas hunters are much more knowledgeable these days about managing the deer herds they spend a lot of money to hunt. Largely due to the excellent programs and information put out by the TX Dept. of Wildlife. Same goes for fisheries here in Texas. I saw the hunters I was responsible for vastly improve in their practices during my tenure. I made sure they had the TDW information and kept it handy at their bunk houses. The principals of the leases learned to force compliance. Even to the extent of expulsion of members who refused to cull and or targeted only large antlered bucks. We all worked hard to keep our buck to doe ration correct. They learned which animals to cull and many hunters would eschew taking any trophy animals in lean years.

I'm sure many states are getting better at management. I'm equally sure some are failing miserably. It's actually just good capitalism to manage game. A healthy deer herd or elk or whatever brings in tourism and dollars. Kansas is a great case in point. When I was a kid in Kansas 60 years ago there were NO deer and I lived in the NE corner where it is reasonably wooded. People had killed out the deer back during the depression because they needed food. Now Kansas has the best trophy White-tailed hunting in the nation along with Illinois. Thanks to very aggressive management programs.
 

EMGX

Well-Known Member
These bikers were probably riding The Great Divide bike route. Bears are a constant concern along much of this route. Some bikers resort to locking themselves in restrooms at night due to fear of bear (and cougar). Ovando is a tiny town and the campers probably didn't have anywhere that they thought they could go other than break into a building or knock on someone's door when they first saw the bear. Maybe should have done that or tried to contact someone when the bear initially showed up, hindsight is 20/20. Wrapped in a hiker/biker tent there probably isn't much that anyone could do to defend themselves in an attack like that. Fellow campers used bear spray to ward off the bear after the attack started but not in time to save the woman. Like the pdf that I posted from US Fish and Wildlife Service said "No deterrent is 100% effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved."
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
I lived in MT for some years. An overwhelming majority of bear attacks, I read or saw pictures of were due to improper care and storage of food. I cooked and hung food in a tree 300 yards from my tent site. I worked for a helicopter contractor, driving Jet-A chase trucks, and spent HUNDREDS of nights in bear country. Bells on my boots also seemed to help.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
There is a book with great authority on this topic, certainly more than authority than any internet forum:


To quote from one section of the book (in my edition the parts about firearms were mostly on pages 230-234):

If you are expert with firearms under "combat" conditions you are more likely to provoke grizzlies and hence have to use your expert ability. In this case the unnecessary killing of a grizzly bear may occur. On the other hand, if you are not expert in firearms in tense situations, you run the risk of wounding and further enraging a grizzly. To kill a charging grizzly bear in order to defend yourself, you must be capable of shooting to kill an object hurtling at you, perhaps through dense brush, at speeds of up to forty-four feet per second. If you aren't expert enough to do this, then you may be better off without a firearm...

Sidearms have a more limited role for protection against charging grizzly bears. My reason for saying this is mainly because of the superior marksmanship required to hit a charging bear in the right places.

To give the bear a reasonable chance to stop and give yourself reasonable safety, the person expert with firearms should perhaps wait until a charging grizzly is from fifty to one hundred feet away or even closer. This is far too close for anyone not expert with firearms. But only experts increase their margin of safety by considering shooting. At these ranges a charging grizzly bear, not shot, will reach a person in one and a half to two seconds.

This book also has some excellent discussions about bear behavior overall and gives you very good information on how to safely avoid being put in a situation where you might ever need a firearm. Such knowledge is less expensive and weighs much less than a firearm and does not require the considerable investment in time and training to become proficient enough to be effective when attacked by a bear.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
Just from a personal experience standpoint, I encounter perhaps half a dozen bears (both griz and black) in a typical year. In all but a handful of those cases the encounters were brief and not a problem.

1F189BDB-17B1-47B5-8B85-E89AD04AAB10.jpeg


I am not too proud to move camp or make dramatic changes to my plans if there is too much bear activity in the area where I am at. If a bear happened to saunter through my campsite I'd probably move camp about half the time. If that bear made a second appearance I would most certainly leave.
 

MartsEbike

Well-Known Member
Region
Other
As a Brit I'm amazed hearing your stories. the only place I see bears is in Zoos!

The wildlife around here isn't particularly wild... Squirrels are unlikely to hunt you down in packs. 😄
 
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Art Deco

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
There is a book with great authority on this topic, certainly more than authority than any internet forum:


To quote from one section of the book (in my edition the parts about firearms were mostly on pages 230-234):







This book also has some excellent discussions about bear behavior overall and gives you very good information on how to safely avoid being put in a situation where you might ever need a firearm. Such knowledge is less expensive and weighs much less than a firearm and does not require the considerable investment in time and training to become proficient enough to be effective when attacked by a bear.
Look up a Howdah pistol (12ga. slugs). Used in India for tigers. No other pistol is likely to stop a grizzly attack, and even a Howdah isn't really likely, unless you're very skilled.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
If a bear is 100' away, no reason to shoot it. Time to twist the top off the bear spray.
If a bear is 10' away from me or inside the tent, and facing me, one of us is going to die. If I am properly equipped.
My reaction time, finger on switch tested with a Tek memory oscilloscope, is 57 ms. Co-worker tripped sweep switch at random time, I tripped vertical voltage switch. YRMV. Your ancestors probably were not native Am Appalachian hunters. When I fall off a bike I always land with my arms under me. My Native Am ancestors made their living chasing game across wet rocks, falling down a lot, and not getting injured before the children were old enough to feed themselves.
My night vision is better than people of European, African, or south Asian ancestry: As demonstrated by maneuvers at ROTC summer camp. I can read the black & white overlay of maps by starlight. I can see holes & cliffs & not step in them with a complete overcast and no moon.
 
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