Black bear hunters in north-central Idaho, specifically those who are hunting in Unit 10 and 12, are asked to use increased vigilance after a radio-collared grizzly bear was spotted by a hunter on Thursday, June 13.
The hunter reported the sighting to Fish and Game staff in the Clearwater Region, and the bear was identified as a 2-year-old grizzly that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collared and released in western Montana in July 2018. The most recent data from the bear’s radio collar places the bear in the Kelly Creek drainage, Fish and Wildlife Service officials confirmed. Kelly Creek is a tributary of the North Fork of the Clearwater River.
There is currently a black bear season open in the hunting unit where the grizzly was observed. Grizzly bears are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, so it is illegal to kill them. Unit 10 and 12 are not areas where hunters would normally expect to encounter a grizzly bear, although grizzlies have on rare occasions been seen there in the past. Notably, in 2007, a hunter killed a grizzly bear he mistook for a black bear while hunting near Kelly Creek.
“We want to make sure that hunters in the area be extra-vigilant and careful while afield, both in identifying their targets and while traveling to their hunting spot, because we do have at least one known grizzly bear in there,” said Jon Rachael, state game manager for Fish and Game.
Here are some tips for hunting safely in grizzly bear territory.
How did the grizzly get here?
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the 2-year-old male bear was released in the West Cabinet Mountains in the Montana, near Spar Lake on July 21, 2018. It moved south from the release and crossed the Clark Fork River, spending most of that summer in the area before moving north, back into the West Cabinet Mountains to den for the 2018-19 winter. The grizzly bear emerged in late March, and crossed the Clark Fork river before moving south in late April. Around June 10, it was located 40 miles southeast of Kellogg before recently making its way to the Kelly Creek drainage.