An elk hunter in Idaho shot and killed a grizzly bear in self-defense after the animal charged directly at him in a "surprise encounter," wildlife officials said Monday.
The hunter was moving through heavy timber near Henrys Lake State Park on Saturday when the large adult female grizzly bear emerged from the brush a short distance away, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) said in a statement.
When the hunter, who was not publicly identified, yelled to warn his hunting partner about the bear, the grizzly rushed toward him, according to the department.
The hunter drew his sidearm and fired several times as the charging bear closed in on him, striking and killing the animal before it was able to make contact, officials said.
A grizzly bear, like the one pictured above, was killed while charging at an elk hunter near Henrys Lake State Park on Sept. 30, wildlife officials said. The bear killed was a large adult female. (Idaho Department of Fish and Game)
After killing the grizzly, the department said the hunter immediately called the Citizens Against Poaching hotline to report the incident. IDFG officers responded and conducted a thorough investigation.
The hunter was hunting elk northwest of Henrys Lake when the bear emerged from the brush a short distance away, wildlife officials said. (Henrys Lake State Park/Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation)
"It was determined that the hunter acted in self-defense during a surprise encounter with the bear from a very close distance," wildlife officials said.
Officials reminded hunters that grizzly bears are protected under state and federal law, and that the animals may be encountered within the Greater Yellowstone and north Idaho areas.
Grizzly bears are protected under state and federal laws. (Photo credit KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)
When hunting in grizzly country, the department encouraged visitors to carry bear spray and keep it accessible, hunt with partners, look for signs of grizzly bears, and retrieve meat quickly and hang it – along with other food and garbage – at least 10 feet off the ground and 200 yards from camp.
Most attacks occur by inadvertently surprising a bear at close range, according to officials, who advised visitors to make noise around creeks and thick vegetation when not hunting.