Officials Kill Grizzly Bear Suspected in Fatal Attack of Woman in Montana

Wildlife officials shot and killed a grizzly bear in Montana on Friday that was believed to have been involved in the fatal attack of a California woman this week.

The male bear was shot by federal wildlife workers shortly after midnight after it approached a bear trap set up near a chicken coop in Ovando, Mont., two miles from where the woman, Leah Davis, was killed early on Tuesday morning after she was pulled from her tent.

Officials said the bear involved in the fatal attack on Tuesday and the bear killed Friday were both grizzlies but it was not yet confirmed that the bear killed on Friday was the same one that attacked Ms. Davis, who was from Chico, Calif.

A bear had been raiding chicken coops since the fatal attack, officials said, and they had set a trap in hopes of luring the bear whenever it returned to Ovando, which is about 75 miles northwest of Helena.

Greg Lemon, a communications and education administrator with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, said specialists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services were monitoring the trap on Thursday night when a bear approached it and was shot.

Montana wildlife officials believe the bear killed was the same grizzly that attacked Ms. Davis given the proximity to Tuesday’s attack, evidence found at both scenes and a pattern of chicken coop raiding.

DNA tests on the grizzly found by the coop and evidence from the scene of the fatal attack will not be available until next week, Mr. Lemon said. Wildlife officials will also not know the bear’s size and weight pending the results of a necropsy.

Until it is known whether it is the same bear, Sheriff Gavin Roselles of Powell County said outdoor campsites in Ovando would remain closed.

Grizzlies are common in the area, but they are not known for fatally attacking people. Mr. Lemon said he did not know what prompted the attack or the raids on the coop but said he was worried about the grizzly’s behavior.

He said that it was very likely that the grizzly began associating humans and populated areas with food and security, prompting it to search areas where people gathered.

“That behavior, that’s not acceptable,” Mr. Lemon said. “It went another step further in that it was noseying around people’s tents. It wasn’t scared away from the presence of people, which is also troubling behavior for a bear. It’s certainly not normal.”

The attack on Tuesday was the latest of several bear attacks in Montana.

In April, a backcountry guide, Charles Mock, died from injuries after he was mauled by a grizzly bear near a campground outside West Yellowstone. A male bear was shot and killed after it charged at workers investigating the attack.

But fatal bear attacks tend to be relatively rare, Mr. Lemon, said.

“We have thousands of people who come see the grandeur of the state, especially our national parks, and most of them have no problems at all,” he said.

Since Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, eight people have been killed by bears in the park, which includes parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

“It’s hard for people to have that perspective with news like this,” Mr. Lemon said.

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