Grizzly bears are protected in the lower 48 states, meaning they can’t be hunted. Yet several hunters from Nevada were hunting black bears near the border of Idaho and Montana, and two of them went after a grizzly, assuming it was a black bear. Grizzlies are generally believed to be more aggressive, and this one was no exception. The hunters shot it and then started searching, after waiting to let it die. The bear wasn’t dead, though, and moved toward the hunters. One of them tried to distract it from attacking his buddy, so the bear changed course and mauled the other hunter, who later died from his injuries.
The men apparently recognized signs a grizzly bear might be in the area, and knew hunting grizzly is prohibited, but somehow they wound up shooting it anyway. The bear died after being shot multiple times. Later it was estimated to weigh about 400 hundred pounds. While the situation is a sad one for the hunter and his family, it also is for the bear and all the bears that are shot for no good reason. The grizzly that died was not known to be a problem or nuisance bear. The deaths took place in a remote, wild area and one study has indicated bears in such places are never the ones getting into trash or killing livestock. According to the study. it is the bears living near human communities that become habituated to the presence of people and their foods.
Undoubtedly, some people will interpret the loss of a bear life and a human life as karmic. In this case, the bear certainly had a right to defend itself from being killed for no reason. Getting too close to a wild grizzly bear, let alone shooting and tracking, is dangerous enough. It is easy to imagine grown men would be able to find other hobbies to enjoy, that don’t involve killing innocent wild animals.
In the days of Lewis and Clark there might have been as many as 50,000 wild grizzly bears roaming the Western states. Now there are only about 1,200-1,400 remaining, so every bear counts. The reason for the huge decline is habitat loss, and hunting by humans.
Image Credit: Diliff