Wildlife manager details what to do in bear encounter
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are reminding people how to respond to a grizzly bear encounter as two people recover from two separate grizzly attacks within a week of each other in southwest Montana.
Grizzly bear management specialist Kevin Frey has worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the last 25 years.
"We've seen from a very minor encounter where the bear maybe just stands on someone, to, unfortunately, we've seen fatalities," Frey said.
Frey responded to the area's most recent attack and told NBC Montana the case serves as a good example for others looking to spend time in the backcountry.
Frey said the victim managed to escape with only injuries to her leg, due to the fact that she was with friends who used bear spray when the bear charged her. He said, though, they were outside early in the morning, when bears are most dangerous, as well as when they're injured, eating or with their cubs.
Frey recommends people practice removing the safety and using bear spray at home before venturing outside. He said muscle memory plays a big role in response to bear attacks. If a bear does charge at you Frey says you should aim the bear spray anywhere below the bear's nose.
Frey told NBC Montana the victim sat down when she was attacked. He said if a bear ever charges you, you should lay down flat on your stomach, bringing your hands over your neck to protect your neck and vital organs. He advises people to stay still until they know the bear is no longer a threat.
Frey said those as close as 75 yards to a grizzly should avoid yelling at it or running away.
"Yelling is just a challenge, and we're not much of a challenge for the bear," Frey said.
Frey cautioned people to head out into the backcountry with friends with a plan in mind.
"You have to have a commitment amongst yourselves," Frey said. "If somebody got knocked down, are you truly going to run in there and get close to that animal to try and save your friend?"