Bear injures camper on river trip

One person was injured Wednesday morning in an encounter with a black bear along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Nyack.

river camping on middle fork of the flathead river near essex, montana living, bear injures camper on middle fork

River camping near Essex, Montana, on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. (David Reese photo/Montana Living)

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, a commercial raft company was on a guided overnight trip with two guides and three clients when a bear entered camp around six a.m. The victim, an adult female guide, told FWP she was sleeping outside on the ground when she sustained injuries from what is believed to be a black bear, FWP said. FWP did not confirm if the bear was a black bear or grizzly bear.

The Middle Fork of the Flathead River forms the southern border of Glacer National Park. Nyack Flats is about 12 miles downriver from Essex, and about 20 miles from West Glacier.

Bear spray was deployed but the bear returned multiple times to camp.
The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Logan Health - Whitefish, according to FWP.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks bear conflict specialists are investigating with interagency cooperation from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. FWP specialists are searching for the bear.


Montana is bear country. All bears are potentially dangerous. The majority of human-bear conflicts involve bears protecting their young or a food source. The majority of bear encounters do not involve conflict.

  • Stay alert and look for bear activity.

  • Carry bear spray close at hand and know how to use it.

  • Follow local land management agency food storage orders and properly store unattended food and anything else with a scent.

  • Food storage options are:

    • Bear boxes

    • Hard-sided vehicles (car, truck, RV). Avoid leaving attractants in vehicles for extended periods of time (backcountry trips).

    • bear resistant containers

    • Electric fencing

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