After two days of searching by helicopter and on the ground, the grizzly bear that killed a woman Tuesday morning has not been found. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks bear specialists and wardens are continuing to monitor culvert traps set in the area.
The search even included the use of infrared technology from Two Bear Air Rescue out of Kalispell, but efforts to find the bear are now focusing on traps near Ovando.
Details surrounding the circumstances of the attack indicate the bear entered town Monday morning and came to an area near the post office at about 3 a.m., where the victim was sleeping in a tent. Another couple in her party were sleeping in a tent nearby.
The bear initially woke the campers but then ran away. The three campers removed food from their tents, secured it, and went back to bed.
The bear was captured by a video camera at a business less than a block away at about 3:15 a.m.
At about 3:30 a.m. the two people in the tent adjacent to the victim were awakened by sounds of the attack. They exited the tent and sprayed the bear with bear spray. It has not been seen since.
The bear pulled the victim from the tent during the fatal attack.
At some point during the night the bear also got into a chicken coop in town, killing and eating several chickens.
While the initial search for the bear was unsuccessful, FWP wardens and bear specialists will continue to monitor the area closely.
“At this point, our best chance for catching this bear will be culvert traps set in the area near the chicken coop where the bear killed and ate several chickens,” said Randy Arnold, FWP regional supervisor in Missoula.
FWP bear experts believe the bear was an approximately 400-pound male, judging by behavior and footprints. DNA from the bear was collected at the scene of the attack and will be analyzed. Should a bear be caught in a trap, DNA can quickly be compared to the DNA already collected to determine if it is the same animal.
Anyone who spots a grizzly bear near Ovando should call the FWP Missoula office at 542-5500.