An American hunter could face a year in jail and a $10,000 fine after being accused of unlawfully killing a federally protected grizzly bear on May 1, which he claims he mistook for a black bear. The incident occurred near Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
The body of the male grizzly, weighing around 530 pounds, attracted the attention of passing motorists. The hunter turned himself in the following morning.
Grizzly bears within the Yellowstone region, which covers parts of southern Montana, eastern Idaho, and northwestern Wyoming, are a federally protected species. Killing a grizzly bear without good cause, such as self-defense, can result in severe penalties under both state and federal law.
The man said he went hunting on the day that the regular black bear hunting season opened in the area. He initially believed the bear he shot seven times was a black bear due to the lack of a characteristic grizzly hump on its back. However, upon closer inspection, the hunter realized he killed a grizzly bear.
Grizzly bear numbers in the western U.S. are a fraction of what they once were – estimates suggest there were as many as 50,000 in the past. The Yellowstone region’s grizzly population is around 1,000.