DNA reveals older grizzly bear killed cyclist

June 29 attack was region’s first fatal grizzly mauling in 15 years

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The bear that fatally mauled Forest Service law enforcement officer Brad Treat on June 29 was a roughly 20-year-old male grizzly, according to state wildlife officials.

Treat was mountain biking with a friend in the Green Gates area of the Flathead National Forest, across U.S. 2 from West Glacier, when he collided with the bear. His friend was able to ride away to get help, but Treat was pronounced dead on the scene.

In a press release sent Thursday by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the agency noted that the bear had been captured and released in 2006 in Glacier National Park as part of a research project. DNA samples taken from the scene of the June mauling matched samples obtained during the bear’s initial capture 10 years ago.

The release noted the bear did not have any documented history of conflicts with humans.

The incident attracted national attention after local officials initially told the media that it had been a grizzly that attacked Treat, but state wildlife officials later noted that the species had not yet been determined.

Forest Service officials believe it was the first documented fatal grizzly mauling in the Flathead National Forest, and the incident marked the first such attack in Northwest Montana since 2001, when a grizzly killed an elk hunter near Ovando.

Law enforcement searched for the bear for three days afterward, calling off the search and determining that it likely did not target Treat.

State wildlife officials removed traps and cameras from the area after failing to capture any bears and determined the grizzly had simply responded to being struck by a mountain biker traveling at a high rate of speed.

“Sight visibility at the location of the collision is very limited and the collision was unavoidable,” a July 2 press release from the agency stated. “The bear reacted, which led to the attack.”

In Thursday’s press release announcing the DNA results, the agency stated it has concluded its investigation into the incident.


Reporter Sam Wilson can be reached at 758-4407 or by email at swilson@dailyinterlake.com.

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