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Wildlife Officials Kill Grizzly Bear Suspected In Fatal Attack

Closeup of a grizzly bear
Grizzly bear. Stock photo

Wildlife officials shot and killed a grizzly bear early Friday morning near Ovando, where a bear attacked and killed a woman early Tuesday morning.

Wildlife officials using night vision goggles killed the bear overnight Friday after staking out a chicken coop that the bear raided near Ovando.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Greg Lemon says they’re confident it’s the same bear that killed 65-year-old Leah Lokan earlier this week:

“It’s the same color, same size, the tracks are the same, the behavior’s the same, but we took DNA samples, and we’ll compare those with samples we took Tuesday to determine if it’s the same bear,” Lemon says.

Those samples include scat and hair taken from the scene of the attack as well as the chicken coop. It could be several days before that DNA analysis is complete.

Lemon says wildlife officials had little choice but to find and kill the bear as soon as possible:

“Normally bears are scared of people. They avoid occupied areas. This bear didn’t and probably somewhere in its past it had associated humans with food,” he says. 

The Associated Press reports the 400-pound bear awakened Lokan and her companions in an adjacent tent about 3 a.m. Tuesday. Wildlife officials have said after the bear ran away, the campers removed food from their tents, secured it and went back to sleep. The bear returned over an hour later and fatally attacked Lokan. It’s also believed to have broken into a local chicken coop and killed and eaten several chickens.

“This all adds up to behavior that’s super unusual for bears. It’s not natural for bears and it’s not something that we can tolerate,” Lemon says. 

The AP reports Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles will maintain a closure on Ovando-area campsites until DNA samples confirm the bear killed overnight is the same involved in the fatal attack. 

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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