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Part of Montana national forest closed after grizzly bear attack, officials say

By Melissa Alonso and Zoe Sottile, CNN

(CNN) — Authorities have closed portions of Custer Gallatin National Forest just outside of Big Sky, Montana, after a person was attacked by a grizzly bear while hunting.

The US Forest Service announced the emergency closure in a Friday news release. The agency didn’t specify how long the area would be closed to the public. The park borders the northeast part of Yellowstone National Park.

On Friday at 1:47 pm local time, officials received a call from a hunting party reporting that a member of their group had been “attacked by a grizzly bear while tracking a deer,” Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue said in a Facebook post.

The US Forest Service added the victim had shot at and likely wounded the bear.

The caller reported the victim was “in need of immediate medical treatment near Yellow Mule Trail, outside of Big Sky,” the post said.

Law enforcement along with search and rescue team members responded to the area and took the person to a helicopter waiting nearby. He was taken to a hospital in Bozeman, Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue said in the post.

The patient’s current condition is unclear.

The Yellow Mule Trails and all access to Buck Ridge Trail are closed, according to the post.

“Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer would like to remind hunters that having a plan for contingencies along with being able to call for aid is crucial in the backcountry,” the post said.

Grizzly bears are the state animal of Montana, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The state boasts the largest grizzly bear population in the continental US, with the predators found across most of the state.

The animals are protected as a threatened species throughout most of the US, the department notes. As adults, grizzly bears can weigh up to 500 pounds and stand up to 8 feet tall when on their hind legs.

The department says “bears can be anywhere” in Montana and people should “assume their presence.” They recommend carrying bear spray and neither approaching, nor running away from a bear.

Big Sky is a community in the Rocky Mountains, located 45 miles south of Bozeman, Montana.

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