Town 'Shaken Up' After Grizzly Bear Kills Camper

Authorities in western Montana are searching for animal's 'daybed'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 6, 2021 6:42 PM CDT
Grizzly Bear Kills Camper in Western Montana
In this July 9, 2009, photo, the Bob Marshall Wilderness cuts a jagged line across the horizon as patrons leave Trixi's Antler Saloon in Ovando, Mont.   (Eliza Wiley/Independent Record via AP, File)

A grizzly bear attacked and killed a bicyclist who was camping in a small western Montana town early Tuesday, triggering an intensive search for the bruin by wildlife officials and law enforcement officers who planned to kill the animal, authorities say. The pre-dawn attack happened in Ovando, a town of fewer than 100 people about 60 miles northwest of Helena, said Greg Lemon, a spokesperson with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. "There was an earlier contact with the bear prior to the event," Sheriff Gavin Roselles said, per the AP. "The bear basically came back into the campsite. It wandered into a campsite a couple different times." A team of law enforcement and wildlife specialists was brought in to track down and kill the bear, officials said. Lemon said his understanding is that the victim was part of a group on a bike trip.

A crew aboard a helicopter was assisting as searchers looked for a "daybed" where the animal might be sleeping to get out of the heat, Lemon said, adding that the bear was believed to have left Ovando after the mauling. Ovando saloon owner Tiffanie Zavarelli said it was the first fatal bear mauling that she knew of in the community, located along the Blackfoot River beneath a mountain range that rises into the remote Bob Marshall Wilderness, a 1,500-square mile expanse of public forests. "Everybody's pretty shaken up right now. The population here is 75—everybody knows everybody," Zavarelli said. "The people from Montana, we know how to be ‘bear aware.' But anything can happen."

(More bear attack stories.)

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