HELENA, Montana (AP) — A grizzly bear that pulled a Chico woman from her tent and killed her this week was fatally shot early Friday by wildlife officials using night-vision goggles to stake out a chicken coop that the animal raided near the small Montana town where the woman was attacked.
Federal wildlife workers shot the bear shortly after midnight when it approached a trap set near the coop about 2 miles from Ovando, where 65-year-old Leah Davis Lokan of Chico was killed Tuesday, said Greg Lemon with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.READ MORE: Critics Bid To Overturn Approval Of Tahoe Resort Expansion
The bear had raided the chicken coop overnight Wednesday, and officials set a baited trap nearby hoping to lure the animal back, Lemon said. Local authorities said campsites in town would stay closed until DNA evidence from the animal comes back.
“Based on the size of the bear, the color of the bear and the nature of the chicken coop raids, we’re confident we’ve got the offending bear,” he said.
Lemon said tracks found at the coop also matched those near the fatal attack in Ovando.
The town along the banks of the Blackfoot River — made famous by the movie “A River Runs Through It” — has fewer than 100 people and borders a huge expanse of forested lands that stretches to the Canadian border. The region is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies.READ MORE: Tamarack Fire Update: Crews Brace for More Extreme Fire Behavior Near Hwy 395
Bear attacks on people are relatively rare, particularly in inhabited areas, and Ovando businesses cater to adventuresome tourists, including bicyclists like Lokan who are allowed to pitch their tents in town.
Dona Aitken, an artist who lives about 7 miles east of the town, said the bear’s death would bring relief to the community. Aitken sees grizzlies occasionally and signs of them such as droppings and tracks but hasn’t been bothered by them.
“Everybody recognizes this as really abnormal behavior to actually attack somebody sleeping in a tent in town,” she said. “I think we still don’t have a good answer for why he did that.”
Investigators gathered DNA evidence from the attack and will compare it to samples gathered from the dead grizzly, which was taken to a state wildlife laboratory in Bozeman for a necropsy, Lemon said. The results could be available in the next three days.MORE NEWS: Pedestrian Walking On Interstate 80 In Vacaville Hit, Killed
Until then, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles said he would maintain a closure on outdoor campsites in Ovando.