Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials have taken in three orphaned grizzly bear cubs after their mother was shot and critically wounded while attacking a hiker. State Education and Program Manager Greg Lemon has more.

“A hiker outside of Dupuyer had a surprise encounter with a grizzly bear sow,” Lemon said. She bit him on the leg. In the process of the encounter, he shot her with a pistol, which stopped the attack. He was able to get to safety and to the hospital. Our staff went out that night and they worked on trying to find the sow. Unfortunately, they had to euthanize the sow.”

Lemon said a rancher in the area spotted the three cubs playing in a field not long after their mother was killed.

“On Friday afternoon, a rancher in the area saw the cubs in a field,” Lemon said. “They were rolling around playing and they were very small. That family gently lassoed the cubs. They were able to round them up and get them into a barrel. That is what they used, which is just fine. Our staff got out to their ranch as soon as they could. They took possession of the cubs and now the cubs are at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Helena.”

Lemon said they will try to keep the cubs together, but with the COVID 19 pandemic, zoos are not receiving any new additions right now.

“They are destined for a zoo, but given the realities of what the world is facing now with everybody staying at home and social distancing, zoos aren’t real busy right now,” Lemon said. “Ultimately, we need to find suitable zoo placement for them. Ideally, we would keep them together. Ideally, we would be able to find a situation that would work, but it is really hard to know at this point.”

Lemon said the three 10 pound grizzly bear cubs were roughhousing so much that he said if they were his kids he would put all three in ‘time out’.