Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana

Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana. By John Cramer, Missoulian.

The other day one of the Montana FWP commissioners was out bird elk hunting, got charged by a grizzly. He had no pepper spray and might have killed the grizzly with his rifle. Since then (and it looks like before too) he has been saying guns are best and that hunting of grizzlies needs to resume so they will learn to fear humans, although the dead bear so far hasn’t interacted with any of its fellow bears telling how dangerous people really can be.

In truth, the facts are almost entirely against this guy. It is also true that in the face of a charging grizzly you are not safe whatever you are carrying. Common sense tells you that a sprayed bear that lives has learned a lot more about people than a dead bear.

Note that this is another one of those stories that tries to establish a person’s credibility by how many bones of his ancestors are in the local cemetery.

I’ve got lots of bones there too, and a lot of experience — two backpacking guides to thick grizzly country. I was so grateful when I could stop carrying my .41 magnum revolver and carry spray. After walking a thousand miles that gun gets heavy.

Note that I think it is highly likely that the grizzly is dead because the bear was shot in the chest from a close range and then apparently shot at least one more time. This is based on the news account.

Haydens probably down to three wolves

Tom Mazzarisi, ranger at Madison in YNP told me that things have not gone well for the 5 remaining Haydens who had been hanging out in the Madison River since being attacked and driven from the Canyon area by the larger Mollies Pack.

He told me something I didn’t know — last winter they spent much of their time in the Madison River area. So it is only natural that the one remaining Hayden adult led the 4 remaining pups to the Madison after being attacked by the Mollies.

The Madison isn’t safe country, however. Some believed they would be attacked by the nearby Cougar Creek Pack, but instead it appears they were attacked by the much larger Gibbon Pack which recently moved up through the area and back into the Gibbon Meadows area. Now it looks like the Haydens are down to three — the adult female, a gray pup and the black pup (who has become pretty large and an effective hunter).

They were last spotted near Old Faithful and moving south toward Craig Pass .