Rocky Mountain Front

Sheer cliffs rise from the prairie in this aerial view of the Rocky Mountain Front.

LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff

Hunters along the Rocky Mountain Front, especially in riparian areas, need to be aware they are in bear country.

In recent years, grizzlies have wandered onto the prairie away from the Front, following streams and river bottoms. Last year a Billings elk hunter was mauled by a grizzly west of Choteau along the Front and in 2015 an archery hunter was attacked northwest of Choteau.

This year grizzly sightings have also been confirmed in the Big Belt Mountains and two grizzlies were captured near Stanford, demonstrating that the bears are further extending their range.

Already this fall an elk hunter was mauled in the Gravelly Range last week and a woman was attacked on Saturday in the Paradise Valley. Both of those incidents involved bears on carcasses.

Given such history, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is reminding hunters who are moving through thick brush along streams from Sept. 1 into November during the big game season could encounter a grizzly. Fish, Wildlife and Parks recommends hunters carry bear spray in addition to their firearms. Statistically bear spray offers better personal protection than a sidearm in bear country.

FWP has produced a brochure outlining some simple safety procedures for bird hunters in grizzly country. The brochures are available at FWP Region 4 in Great Falls and many license agents along the Front. For more information, call FWP in Great Falls at 406-454-5840.

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