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Update, July 12: Authorities have killed the bear they suspect was behind the fatal mauling of a camper in Ovando, Montana. A Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks press release said wildlife officials using night-vision technology shot the animal shortly after midnight on Friday, July 9 as it approached a trap near a chicken coop that had been raided that Wednesday. The agency will conduct DNA testing to confirm the dead grizzly is the same one involved in the attack.
Original Post: A camper in Montana died on Tuesday in what authorities say is the state’s second fatal grizzly attack this year.
The encounter occurred early on the morning of July 6, near the town of Ovando. According to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the victim, who had been on a cycling trip, was camping with two other people near the small town’s post office at the time of the attack.
“The bear initially woke the campers but then ran away,” the agency said. “The three campers removed food from their tents, secured it, and went back to bed.”
About half an hour later, two of the campers woke to the sound of their companion being attacked by the bear; the animal fled after they sprayed it with bear mace. During the attack, the bear, estimated by officials to be a 400-pound male based on prints and behavior, dragged the victim from her tent.
As of Wednesday afternoon, state wildlife authorities and law enforcement were still searching for the bear involved and had not determined what triggered the fatal encounter.
Writing on Facebook, the Powell County Sheriff’s office, which first responded to the scene of the attack, said that campgrounds near Ovando would be closed through Sunday. The Sheriff’s office urged people recreating outside in the area to be “cautious and aware that as of now the bear in question has not been located.”
In a press release on Tuesday’s attack, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks noted that grizzlies are common in the Blackfoot Valley, where Ovando is located, and said that a grizzly, believed to be the same one involved in the attack, had been spotted outside a local business and breaking into a chicken coop that same night.
The incident is the latest in a number of bear attacks in North America this year, driven partially, experts say, by a recovering grizzly population that’s re-occupying territory it hasn’t inhabited in years. In April, a grizzly fatally mauled wilderness guide Charles “Carl” Mock while he was fishing near West Yellowstone. First responders arriving at the scene shot and killed a male grizzly when it charged them; it was appears to have been protecting a moose carcass cached nearby. Later that month, a black bear killed 39-year-old Laney Malavolta in Durango, Colorado in the state’s first fatal bear attack since 2009. In May, brown bears killed two people in two separate incidents in Alberta.
This post has been updated with additional information about the attack from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.