Grizzly killed by black bear hunter in northwestern Montana

Wildlife officials say a Pennsylvania man shot and killed a 500-pound grizzly bear while he was hunting for black bears in northwestern Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Dillon Tabish said the adult male bear was killed May 20 on U.S. Forest Service land in the Swan Valley.

The hunter told game wardens that he mistakenly believed the animal to be a black bear. The grizzly was estimated to be about 18 years old.

Grizzlies are protected under federal law in northwestern Montana as a threatened species. Black bear hunters must pass a bear identification test before receiving their license.

Tabish said the case was turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and remains under investigation to determine if any penalties are warranted.


The following is a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:

A black bear hunter shot and killed a grizzly bear in the Swan Valley.

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

The hunter, an adult male from Pennsylvania, reported the incident to FWP. The adult male grizzly bear weighed 500 pounds and was approximately 18 years old.

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 dead grizzly 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

Hunters are always reminded to learn how to identify bears, be absolutely sure of their target and, if in doubt, don’t shoot.

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