Billings man describes bear encounter at city park

Posted at 2:28 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 18:18:26-04

BILLINGS – Dustin Ogdin and his dog Otis were just out for an ordinary evening stroll at Norm Schoenthal Island park Monday night on the southern edge of Billings when they crossed paths with a bear.

Near the end of their walk, the pair were just about to turn around because the mosquitoes were too thick. But Ogdin decided to keep going. What he found around the corner was the surprise of a lifetime.

“As I rounded a bend in the trail I heard some commotion immediately to my right and looked up and saw a black bear,” Ogdin said Tuesday. “I absolutely never expected to see a bear in the middle of the city of Billings.”

The bear scrambled up a tree and eventually came down to the ground about 20 feet away from Ogdin. The bear wasn’t acting aggressive, and Ogdin was able to take a video with his cell phone.

“If you see the video, I’m not really as close as it may look in the video because I zoomed in as far as I could,” Ogdin said.

Luckily the bear didn’t take much interest in Ogdin’s dog, Otis.

“While I remembered my bear training, my dog has not been through bear training,” Ogdin said. “He was unfortunately standing right under the tree somewhat mesmerized by the bear 6 or 7 feet above it.”

Ogdin said the startling encounter won’t deter him from visiting the outdoors in the future.

“This experience is a reminder that the more time you spend outside in nature, the more likely you are to have amazing experiences that you would never expect,” Ogdin said. “Even in the middle of a city park.”

Ogdin said he called the Billings Police Department immediately after the incident to alert authorities of the bear’s presence.

Reporting by Mitch Lagge for MTN News