An approximately 20-year-old male grizzly bear killed Flathead National Forest law enforcement officer Brad Treat near West Glacier in June, according to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigation released last week.
Using hair samples and other DNA evidence from the scene of the attack, FWP investigators were able to determine the grizzly had first been captured in Glacier National Park in 2006 as part of a grizzly trend monitoring study. The bear was not collared and subsequently released. The bear was again identified through DNA from hair samples collected from rub trees in 2009 and 2011 — again as part of a grizzly bear study in the region. When the bear was first captured in 2006, it was found to be between 8 and 10 years old.
But the male grizzly had never been in trouble before for management actions, such as getting into human foods or other attractants, noted FWP spokesman John Fraley.
“This bear has no management history and as far as we know the bear has not had any previous conflicts with humans,” the report noted.
Treat was riding his bicycle the afternoon of June 29 in the “green gate” trail complex just south of West Glacier when he collided with the grizzly on a section of trail that contained limited sight distances, which led to a very short reaction time before the collision, FWP’s Wildlife Human Attack Response Team found.
A relative Treat was riding with turned around and went for help, but by the time officers found Treat, he had died.
Treat was not carrying bear spray or a firearm and he was off-duty, Forest Service spokeswoman Janette Turk confirmed.
Treat was a well-liked and highly respected officer. FWP wardens and other officers searched for the bear after the attack and traps were set to try to capture it, but it never returned to the area.
A male grizzly bear can have a range of more than 200 square miles, so it would not be unusual for a grizzly to wander outside Glacier National Park, which is a few miles to the north of the incident, Fraley noted.