A black bear hunter from out of state mistakenly shot and killed a grizzly bear in the Swan Valley last month, according to state wildlife officials.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks personnel responded to the incident that occurred May 20 in the Piper Creek drainage in the Swan Valley on Forest Service land, FWP noted in a press release Monday.
The hunter, a man from Pennsylvania, reported the incident to Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The adult male grizzly bear weighed 500 pounds and was approximately 18 years old.
The hunter told game wardens that he mistakenly identified the animal as a black bear. The incident occurred during the spring hunting season for black bears, which ended May 31. The individual had a license to hunt black bears, according to FWP.
Game wardens investigated the incident in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The dead grizzly bear was removed from the site.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Dillon Tabish said the state agency turned over the case to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and it remains under investigation. He said the Service will make a determination on any potential penalties.
Grizzly bears cannot be legally hunted in Montana. Black bear hunters are required to pass an identification test before purchasing a black bear hunting license. A hunter must present a certification of completion issued by FWP at the time of purchase. The test is available online at http://fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter/bearID.
Wildlife officials remind hunters to learn how to identify bears, be absolutely sure of their target and, if in doubt, donít shoot.