Grizzly bear identified in attack on woman near Libby (posted 6/22/18)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) has completed its investigation into the bear attack that occurred last month in the Poorman Creek Drainage of the Cabinet Mountains south of Libby, Montana.
At approximately 11 a.m. on May 17, 2018, an adult woman working as a field assistant for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on a grizzly bear research project sustained serious injuries after surprising an adult male grizzly bear. During the attack, the victim managed to deploy bear spray, which deterred the animal and forced it to flee the area.
The attack, described by investigators as a surprise defensive encounter, occurred after the victim walked within 11-12 feet of the bear. Neither the bear nor the victim could likely see or hear each other due to environmental factors and noise resulting from nearby high-water runoff and rain and wind, according to WHART Lead Investigator Brian Sommers. The bear was in front of and to the left of the woman prior to the attack.
Following the attack, the victim activated her Garmin inReach Global Satellite device that sent out an emergency notification. She walked approximately 2 miles from the scene to her vehicle and drove an additional 3 miles before encountering another vehicle, which transported her to an ambulance. Along U.S. Highway 2, ALERT Air Ambulance arrived and transported her to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
DNA analysis of hair collected in the investigation identified the bear as a 24-year-old male grizzly bear that was previously captured in 2005 as part of a research project. The bear has spent its entire life in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem and is one of the original grizzly bears in the ecosystem, according to Wayne Kasworm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Biologist and team leader for grizzly bear recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem. The grizzly bear is not an augmentation bear.
Over the years, this bear has left numerous hair samples on scratch and rub sites throughout the ecosystem, which spans approximately 2,600 square miles across the Yaak Valley and the Cabinet and Purcell mountain ranges of northwest Montana and northern Idaho. The ecosystem is home to a relatively small population of grizzly bears estimated at 53 bears.
The WHART investigation included on-site visits, victim interviews, evidence collection and analysis.
lies in the northwest corner of Montana and is nestled in a valley carved by the
Kootenai River on the flank of the majestic Cabinet Mountain Range and Wilderness
about 2,800 people live within Libby proper. The main industries are lumber and
wood products, mining, tourism and recreation. The movies "The River Wild" and
"Always" were filmed here. Contact the Libby
Chamber of Commerce for brochures, info on lodging and events, general area
information, and contact information for local businesses and services.
When the weather warms and the mountain
snows melt away, the Kootenai National Forest comes alive with over 2.2
million acres of public land as a playground. Mountain trails and lakes
open up, beautiful wildflowers come in bloom, and wildlife have their young.
Libby is the basecamp for the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area, 90-mile
long Lake Koocanusa, the Northwest Peaks Scenic Area, and the Ten Lakes
Scenic Area. There is good access to most of the Forest and plenty of room
to get away from it all!
Winter in Montana means snow, and lots
of it! For those who love to play in the deep powder, the Libby area offers tremendous
winter fun. Turner Mountain Ski Area, located
just 22 miles from Libby, offers challenging downhill skiing with a beautiful
view. Their slogan is "steep, deep and cheap", and Turner definitely
lives up to that. It's still fairly undiscovered, so you can escape the crowds
and get the cheapest lift tickets around. For those who love snowmobiling,
there are hundreds of miles of backcountry roads to sled on in the Kootenai National
Forest. Cross-country skiers and ice fishermen also can find solitude on a lake
and miles of quiet forest trails to enjoy the outdoors. Those who are a bit on
the wild and crazy side will love the antics of the Libby Polar Bear Club.
Members take winter-time "swims" in frigid Libby Creek every Sunday
from October to April. Plungers have ranged in age from 3 to 61. As long as the
ice can be broken on the creek, if it has formed, the group will take their plunge,
no matter the temperature.
These people must be
Polar Bear Club