Idaho Hunter Kills Grizzly in Selway-Bitteroot

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A hunter on an outfitted bear hunt in Idaho's North Fork Clearwater River drainage killed a grizzly bear on Labor Day, September 3.

It would be the first grizzly bear verified since 1946 on the Idaho side of the 5,700-square-mile Selway-Bitteroot ecosystem in central Idaho and western Montana.

The 6- to 10-year-old male, about 450 pounds, with a silvery back and in good physical condition, was killed three miles from the Montana border.

The Tennessee hunter was hunting black bear over bait in an area where grizzly bears were not expected. The incident is being investigated by Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a case of mistaken identity.

"Unless there's a female with cubs it's not a population, but it means the area may now be occupied," said Steve Nadeau, large carnivore coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game.

Fish and Game officials want to warn hunters that there may be other grizzly bears in the area, and they should be sure of their target before shooting. It's a federal offense to kill a grizzly bear, under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Fish and game wardens from Montana and Idaho, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's grizzly bear recovery coordinator, confirmed the identity of the bear as a grizzly.

Though grizzly bears in Yellowstone ecosystem have been removed from the endangered species list, they still are protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the Selway-Bitteroot and Selkirk areas in Idaho.

The hunter notified Idaho Fish and Game officials of the shooting on Tuesday. The area is remote, and the hunter carried out the carcass to allow officials to confirm the identity of the bear. The area is ideal grizzly bear habitat.

The incident is still under investigation, and the bear is in the possession of Idaho Fish and Game.