A Montana hunter killed a grizzly bear in northern Idaho last week, after apparently mistaking the endangered bruin for a more common black bear. The man has been charged in state court for killing the grizzly, according to Kara Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The hunter was in the Smith Creek area near the Canadian border, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. After shooting the bear, the man identified it as a grizzly and called the department. The Smith Creek drainage is northwest of Bonners Ferry, near the Porthill border crossing. Black bear hunting is open in that area until Oct. 31. The grizzly was an adult female and had been collared, said Wayne Kasworm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator. The bear did not have any cubs, Kasworm said. Grizzly bears are protected under state and federal law. Idaho’s black bear hunting season starts at the end of August. Black bear hunters are expected to know the difference between legal black bears and grizzly bears before shooting. The department is investigating, and the man is cooperating. Reports of accidental shootings are common. A hunter in Wallace shot and killed a grizzly bear that had been collared and relocated to Montana in October 2015. A grizzly bear was shot and killed near Rose Lake in 2009. Both were cases of mistaken identity. Last year, a female grizzly with cubs was shot multiple times in an apparent poaching at Spruce Lake, in northern Boundary County. That case is still under investigation, Kasworm said. A 3-year-old male grizzly bear has been roaming the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Area south of Lolo Pass. There is an open black bear hunting season in the area, and state and federal officials are asking hunters to carefully identify their targets. Many human-caused grizzly deaths go unreported. According to one review of grizzly mortality between 1982 and 2017, 17 radio-collared bears died from human causes in the Cabinet-Yaak recovery area. Of those, 10 deaths were reported by the public and seven were not. According to a 2018 Canadian study, about 88 percent of human-caused grizzly deaths go unreported. So far this year, regional bear-human encounters and conflicts are down from previous years. “It’s a good huckleberry year. The bears are up in the huckleberries and not down in the valleys as much,” Kasworm said. “We’ll see, though. This is the time when things start to pick up a little bit as well. Once the huckleberries run their course, there is more opportunity for bears to mix it up with people.” Know your bears     [Better yet, leave ALL bears alone.] It’s vital that black bear hunters know the difference between grizzly bears and black bears. • Grizzly bears have a hump above their shoulders, short rounded ears, long claws and, when seen in profile, a dished face. • Black bears have no shoulder hump, tall pointed ears, shorter claws and, when seen in profile, a straight face. • For more information, including an online identification test visit: wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/bear-identification-testing.


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