Montana Public Radio

Wisconsin Hunter Fined For Accidentally Killing Grizzly Bear In Montana

May 19, 2015

A Wisconsin man was fined more than$2,000 Monday for accidently killing a grizzly bear in Northwest Montana.

Richard Kutcher had a license to hunt black bears, and shot what he thought was a black bear on May 16th. As soon as he realized his mistake, Kutcher reported the shooting to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.

Grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species and are illegal to hunt.

John Fraley of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks says grizzly and black bears can be similar in their size and color.

"Well this just illustrates that it can be really difficult to distinguish between a grizzly bear and a black bear in the field. That’s why we recommend that anyone who is going to be hunting black bear go onto our website and to go through our bear identification program."

Grizzly bears have a hump between their shoulders that distinguish them from black bears.

A grizzly will also have longer claws, and shorter, more rounded ears than a black bear.

Information on how to identify black and grizzly bears is posted on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.

Montana hunters are required to complete the bear identification program before buying a black bear license.

Fraley says this is the first time in several years a grizzly has been killed after being mistaken as a black bear.