Teen fights off charging grizzly with bear spray

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USO/iStock(ENNIS, Mont.) -- A teenager who encountered a bear in Montana on Sunday was pinned to the ground by the animal but managed to escape using bear spray, authorities said.

The 17-year-old boy told wildlife officials that he was walking down a hill in a remote area some 30 miles south of Ennis on Sunday afternoon when he heard a noise behind him. The teen said he turned around to find a bear charging at him, according to a statement from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The boy was carrying bear repellent in his backpack, but the animal pushed him up against a tree before he was able to react, he told wildlife officials.

The teen said the bear held him up against the tree momentarily before letting go. The boy fell over and tried to crawl between two trees for protection, he told wildlife officials, but the bear "pinned him face-down on the ground."

He managed to reach over his shoulder and grab the bear repellent from his backpack. He sprayed the bear, which then backed away and left the area.

The boy made radio contact with his family, who were staying at a cabin in the area. He was taken to Madison Valley Medical Center where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

Wildlife officials will continue to monitor the area, which is well within occupied bear habitat, but no further management action is being taken at this time, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

"Based on the teen’s description of the bear’s behavior, the bear was mostly likely a grizzly bear," the department said in the statement Monday. "The bear’s behavior in this incident appears to be typical of surprise close encounters."

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks recommended the following tips for avoiding negative encounters with bears:

  • Be prepared and aware of your surroundings.
  • Carry and know how to use bear spray.
  • Travel in groups whenever possible.
  • Stay away from animal carcasses.
  • Follow U.S. Forest Service food storage regulations.
  • If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Back away slowly and leave the area.

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