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Libby grizzly bear attack spotlights backcountry dangers

Posted at 2:59 PM, Jul 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-31 17:54:04-04

KALISPELL – Being able to explore the great outdoors is one of Montana’s greatest strengths, but it can also be extremely dangerous even for the most experienced outdoorsmen.

MTN News spoke with the man who was in charge of investigating a bear attack near Libby that left one woman badly injured in May. In an extreme scenario like the one in Lincoln County, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks calls out the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team to investigate.

Brian Sommers led the investigation when a field assistant working in a remote section of the Cabinet Mountains was caught off guard in a surprise grizzly bear attack while working on a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear project.

Sommers drew on his 33 years of experience at the agency — including another 11 as a criminal investigator — to determine the type of bear involved in the conflict and just what happened.

“She was walking up the road, the bear was there feeding, and it was just — I call it a perfect storm,” Sommers recalled. “You’ve got a lot of water rolling, from the high run off, it’s raining that day, the wind is blowing, you have actual water running down the road. She’s walking on and the noise level from all of that is immense, and even though she was blowing a whistle, clapping her hands and making noise, she just, it was just that proximity where they got too close to each other.”

The Wildlife Human Attack Response Team recently wrapped up their annual training in the Flathead.

Reporting by Don Fisher for MTN News