A 20-year-old grizzly bear is responsible for the death in June of a United States Forest Service law enforcement officer, according to an investigation Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) released last week. The male grizzly killed Brad Treat, 38, while he was mountain biking June 29 on a trail near Glacier National Park, ABC News reported.
“Treat was mountain biking on a trail with another male at the time of the attack,” Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said, via ABC News. “It appears they likely surprised the bear and Treat was taken off his bike by the bear. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The second rider was able to exit the area to summon help and was not injured or involved in the attack.”
Montana FWP investigators collected hair samples and other DNA evidence from the scene of the attack and determined the grizzly had been captured, but not collared, in 2006 in Glacier National Park as part of a study, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee. The bear hadn’t previously been on the radar for interactions with humans. “This bear has no management history and as far as we know the bear has not had any previous conflicts with humans,” according to the Montana FWP report, via the Bonner County Daily Bee.
Treat was off-duty when the attack occurred, and didn’t have bear spray or a firearm with him. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports wardens and other officers searched for the bear after the attack but were unable to locate it. John Fraley, a Montana FWP spokesman, says it wouldn’t be unusual for a bear to wander outside of the park boundaries.
Treat had been a U.S. Forest Service officer for 15 years, according to the Flathead Beacon. A statement from Treat’s wife, Somer, was read at his memorial service. “I was so lucky to be his sidekick for all the years we have had, just as everyone he came in contact with feels lucky too,” Somer Treat wrote, via the Flathead Beacon. “He changed lives. He was not just liked, he was loved. He was not just respected, he was admired. He was not just average, he was exceptional.”