Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has ended efforts to trap the bear involved in a fatal mauling Wednesday a few miles south of West Glacier.
The agency announced Saturday morning that it had removed all traps and cameras from the Green Gate trail system off of U.S. 2 on Flathead National Forest land.
Flathead National Forest law-enforcement officer Brad Treat, 38, of West Glacier was mountain-biking on the trail Wednesday afternoon when he collided with the bear, which fatally mauled Treat.
“Based on preliminary findings, Wildlife Human Attack Response Team Lead Investigator Brian Sommers believes that Treat was moving at a high rate of speed on his mountain bike along the narrow trail and collided with the bear,” a press release from Fish, Wildlife and Parks stated.
“Sight visibility at the location of the collision is very limited and the collision was unavoidable. The bear reacted, which led to the attack.”
A search for the bear by state wildlife biologists and game wardens failed to capture any bears in the following days.
The news release did not state whether all search efforts for the bear had been suspended.
The attack is believed to be the first fatal bear mauling in the Flathead Forest, although the area is home to a large population of bears and some of the most productive grizzly bear habitat in the lower 48 states. The attack took place outside Glacier National Park, not far from the west entrance to the park.
Whether the bear was a grizzly or black bear has not been determined.
A coroner’s report is likely weeks from completion, but Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said Friday the cause of Treat’s death would be listed as trauma associated with a bear attack.
The national story has prompted questions over whether Treat’s death was possibly due to a lack of precautions — such as carrying bear spray — but Curry said that wasn’t the case.
“It wouldn’t have mattered. When you’re riding on a trail and you physically run into a bear, it doesn’t matter what’s on your belt or in your hand,” Curry said.
Treat was riding with a companion, but Curry said the other cyclist was far enough behind on the trail that he didn’t see the attack occur.
“He wisely decided his best course of action was to get out of there and get help,” Curry said. “It was wrong place, wrong time. We haven’t found any indication they did anything that was at all inappropriate.”
A specialized team of state game wardens and biologists had set up remote wildlife cameras and culvert traps where Treat was attacked, while bear DNA samples from the scene are being analyzed.
A 10-square-mile area of national forest land around the attack site remains closed to the public. The closed area is south and east of U.S. 2.
Treat, who lived just across U.S. 2 from the trail system, was a popular and respected Forest Service law-enforcement officer.
Treat grew up in Kalispell, where he was a standout distance runner at Flathead High School. He returned home after attending college in Washington state and Missoula and worked as a seasonal park ranger in Glacier Park from 1999 to 2001.
He married a local girl, photographer Somer Hileman, and became a Forest Service law enforcement officer in 2004. He spent the last 12 years stationed at the Hungry Horse District in the Flathead National Forest, whose territory stretches into the untamed Great Bear Wilderness.
Treat still loved to run as an adult, and he came in eighth in the Spokane Marathon in 2013. His childhood and college friend, Miles Mason, described Treat as “ultra-competitive” and said he used to get awakened by his friend every morning to go run.
Funeral services for Treat are pending.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Reporter Sam Wilson may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at email@example.com