WEST GLACIER – A Great Falls attorney is expected to appear here Friday to enter a not guilty plea in U.S. District Court on behalf of a Texas man who Glacier National Park rangers have accused of discharging a firearm within the park.
Brian Murphy, 57, told rangers he was charged by a bear while hiking on the Mount Brown Lookout Trail on Saturday, July 26. After discharging bear spray, Murphy reportedly told rangers he fired one round from his .357 revolver at the animal.
Murphy had not been publically identified until the charge was filed this week.
While it is legal to carry a firearm in Glacier due to a 2010 federal law, it remains illegal to discharge one.
Rangers believe the bear was hit, but it was never found. It is unknown whether it was a grizzly or black bear.
Federal court documents indicate the citation against Murphy for discharging the firearm was filed in federal court on Wednesday, nearly two months after the incident. The misdemeanor carries a $500 fine.
After shooting the bear, which he said charged from below the trail, Murphy turned around and quickly hiked back to the trailhead, warning other hikers he met of the incident, Glacier officials said in July. The Texan reported the shooting to a park volunteer backcountry ranger he met on the trail, and the ranger contacted park dispatch.
The hiker, who was alone at the time, was not injured. He turned over the revolver to rangers, who reported it contained five unspent rounds and one spent casing.
Documents from U.S. District Court in Great Falls indicate that attorney Jason T. Holden will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong in West Glacier on Murphy’s behalf.
Mount Brown Lookout Trail is reached by starting at the Sperry Chalet Trailhead near Lake McDonald Lodge.
It is considered one of the most challenging hikes in Glacier Park. The trail is 5 miles long and gains more than 4,200 feet of elevation in that distance. Partway up it passes through a stretch of huckleberry bushes.