Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry told the Associated Press that Brad Treat and another man were mountain biking near Halfmoon Lake of Glacier National Park in Montana when they came across the bear, surprising it. The other man escaped unscathed and sought help while the bear knocked Treat off his bike. Help arrived too late, as Treat was declared dead at the scene. The bear has not been found, though authorities are searching for it, and park users have been notified of the incident. Authorities have closed the area, which is about 3 miles away from Glacier’s west entrance.
Treat’s death marks the seventh grizzly fatality since 2010 in the Northern Rockies, with this incident the only one outside the greater Yellowstone area. A couple times a year, park visitors at Glacier National Park encounter bears but Treat is only the 11th person to have died from a bear attack since the park’s creation in 1910. The last death from an attack happened in 1998, when three bears killed a park employee.
Grizzlies in the lower 48 states have been designated a threatened species since the 1970s, but their numbers are increasing and so are conflicts with humans. This video shot in Jasper, Canada, shows a very similar encounter where two mountain bikers got close to a grizzly. The bear charged three times but eventually backed off.
The grizzlies in the Glacier area are among about 1000 bears in the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem, which also includes the Bob Marshall Wilderness south of the park. At least 700 more grizzlies live in and around Yellowstone National Park, which is roughly 360 miles south of Glacier.