Idaho man shoots, kills grizzly bear in ‘defense of life’ after it charged his girlfriend

An eastern Idaho man shot a grizzly bear in “defense of life” after it behaved aggressively toward his girlfriend. It was later found dead near a road, Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials said in a news release.

According to Fish and Game, the couple were getting out of their vehicle to go into their home near Last Chance, an unincorporated community just south of Island Park, last week when the man heard his girlfriend scream.

Officials said the man was unloading items from the car, including a shotgun. When he saw the bear running toward his girlfriend, he raised the firearm and shot at the bear, which then ran away.

Fish and Game said it later received a call about a dead bear near the roadway. The bear was a yearling male, officials said.

Grizzlies in the contiguous United States are protected under the Endangered Species Act, making it illegal to harm or kill them unless in instances of self-defense or defending another person. Fish and Game said an investigation showed the Idaho man acted to defend his girlfriend during a surprise bear encounter.

It’s the third time in less than a year that a grizzly in Idaho has been killed in self-defense. All three incidents occurred near Island Park, which is part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem — home to one of the largest grizzly bear populations in the Lower 48 states. The previous two incidents happened when hunters encountered grizzlies.

Fish and Game urged people in grizzly territory to secure or remove any possible bear attractants, including garbage, pet food and bird feeders.