Montana's Biggest Grizzly Illegally Killed

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Dept., Bear Hunting Magazine

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever illegally shot and killed what officials say was one of Montana's largest grizzly bears.

On August 12, 2009, the carcass of the big grizzly, called Maximus because he stood 7 1/2 feet tall and weighed about 800 pounds was found on a ranch in northern Montana. The bear was estimated to have been about a month. Special Agent Brian Lakes stated that he didn't know what the exact size of the reward would be but it would be "substantial."

In 2007, the 9 1/2-year-old bear, officially identified by authorities as No. 4273, was captured accidentally by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. At the time, the department had set out to catch females for a study.

Maximus then weighed 765 pounds and was the second largest bear managers had ever captured in the state, said Mike Madel, a grizzly bear management specialist with the department.

A remote camera snapped a picture of the same bear in the fall of 2008, and Madel said it looked as if the bear had grown to more than 800 pounds. He said the bear likely weighed more than 800 pounds at the time it was killed. Typically male grizzlies in the region average around 600 pounds.

"He wasn't a problem bear in any way," Madel said. "He kept to himself, stayed out of trouble. It seems someone just indiscriminately shot him."

Such killings are rare, Madel said, adding that "we almost never see this kind of thing here."
The occasional bear is killed in self-defense, he said, or by a hunter who mistakes a grizzly for a black bear. But Maximus steered clear of people, and it is not yet bear hunting season. "I think someone just spotted him and took a shot," Madel said, adding that a road passes about a mile from where the carcass was found. "Personally, I'd like someone to come forward with some answers."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department at (800) 847-6668.

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