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Idaho Fish and Game

Grizzly bear mistakenly shot and killed by a hunter in North Idaho


A male grizzly bear was mistaken for a black bear by a hunter, who reported the incident

On the morning of June 8, a nonresident hunter shot and killed a male grizzly bear he mistook for a black bear. The bear was killed in Idaho’s Panhandle, north of Upper Priest Lake. After shooting the bear and identifying it as a grizzly, the hunter contacted Idaho Fish and Game and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

The incident serves an important reminder that grizzly bears can be found in game management units in the Panhandle, in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and grizzlies are known to occasionally visit portions of the Clearwater Region. Hunters can refer to page 73 of the 2023 Big Game Seasons and Rules to see units where grizzlies may be found. 

Grizzly bears are protected under state and federal law, and bear hunters are responsible for proper identification of their target.

All hunters are encouraged to review their bear identification skills to avoid mistaken identity. Size and color of the animal are not reliable indicators of species. It’s best to look at multiple features in order to make the right call. Grizzlies typically have short, rounded ears, a dished facial profile, a prominent shoulder hump and 2-4 inch long claws.

Hunters and others can learn more about bear identification skills and learn the difference between a defensive and predatory encounter by using Fish and Game's online resources.