Federal and state wildlife officials are investigating the killing of a grizzly bear in north-central Idaho, where the last confirmed sighting of the species was in 1946. That is over sixty years ago.
A hunter, from Tennessee, was on a guided trip hunting black bear with bait and killed the grizzly bear on Monday, September 3rd near Kelly Creek about three miles from the Montana border. Black bear hunting season opened Aug. 30.
The male grizzly weighed 400 to 500 pounds and was 6 to 8 years old. The hunter and guide skinned the carcass and brought it out on horseback so it could be confirmed as a grizzly by authorities. It is now in the possession of state fish and game department.
The bear killed was in the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem that includes part of north-central Idaho and western Montana, and where wildlife officials have been expecting grizzly bears to repopulate on their own. The Selway-Bitteroot area is one of six recovery zones for grizzly bears in the lower 48 states. Prior to this sighting, no grizzlies were thought to be in the Selway-Bitteroot recovery zone.
The bear possibly came from the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem in western Montana or the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem that includes Glacier National Park. DNA tests are planned to try and determine the bear’s origin.
Fish and Game officials had been telling black bear hunters that there were no grizzly bears in the area. He said hunters are now being warned that grizzlies are in the area, and that they are not legal to hunt.