Hunter survives bear attack in southern Gravellys

An archery hunter in the southern end of the Gravelly Mountains was attacked by a grizzly bear Sunday, but survived with limited injuries.

Matt Menge from Bozeman was making his way back to his truck in the Fossil Creek area in the upper end of the West Fork of the Madison River drainage about 40 miles south of Ennis, said Sam Sheppard, region 3 warden captain for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Menge was in dense timber, when he heard a growl and the rush of attack. The bear was on him before he could get out his pepper spray, Sheppard said.

The attack was over quickly and left Menge with lacerations, punctures, head injuries and a broken forearm. He was treated at the Madison Valley Medical Center.

Menge was alone when the attack happened and told officials it was a small grizzly.

People have reported several grizzly bear sightings in the southern Gravellys this summer, said Kevin Frey, bear expert with FWP.

The area has a residential bear population and also gets frequent visits from grizzlies moving back and forth from the Madison Range, Frey said.

“The bears are expanding or drifting out of the Yellowstone core area,” he said.

The group Menge was hunting with had seen grizzlies in the area prior to the attack, Sheppard said. The area is also part of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest food storage restriction area, so signs warning people of grizzly bears were already in place.

Archery hunters in grizzly bear country need to be cautious, Frey said.

“They’re just inherently really vulnerable to sneak up on a bear,” he said.

Some tips Frey offers are: carry pepper spray; if you kill something to immediately dress the animal and remove the meat from the kill site; leave meat where you can see it from at least 200 yards; if you have to leave meat in the woods, hang it at least 10 feet off the ground and 150 yards from the gut pile; when you return to the meat watch it with binoculars to make sure no bears are near; if meat is disturbed or a bear is in the area, leave immediately and contact FWP; and avoid gut piles, carcasses and areas where ravens are concentrated.

Lastly, Frey recommends always hunting with a partner. Statistically, groups of people are less likely to be attacked than individuals.

Officials have talked with other hunters in the area of the attack and many had seen bears, Sheppard said. The agency will not take any action against the bear that attacked Mange.

Grizzly bear encounters are an inherent risk of hunting in the southern Gravellys, he said.

“We’re not going to go looking for this bear,” Sheppard said.

Correction: The spelling of Matt Menge’s name has been corrected in this article

27 Responses to Hunter survives bear attack in southern Gravellys

  1. Dawn Hagedorn says:

    Really curious what made the bear quit the attack before Mr. Mange was further injured or dead? And why did the bear leave and let Mr. Mange (who was obviously injured and bloody from the attack) get back to his truck or buddies? Did Mr. Mange or FWP have any ideas? This information may help others who are attacked in the future survive an attack. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  2. Chuck says:

    Whew! I sure am glad the FWP told me that there are inherent risks recreating in the Gravelly’s. It’s a shame that I have to guard my kids every time I go up there. But, I’m sure this hunter did something wrong to provoke the poor misunderstood grizzly bear. I wonder how badly Mr. Mange would have had to be hurt before the Department “went looking for it”? What’s a few stiches, anyway?

  3. MT Joe says:

    This time of year, bears are on the move and they’re eating trying to build a fat reserve heading into the winter. Archery season times out perfectly with this activity, so hunters need to be on their toes more than normal.

    As for being warned there are grizzlies in that area… they were there first. You are a guest in their home.

    Imagine if some annoying people moved in just down the block from your house. Then, sometime every day, you found one of them in your yard doing something you didn’t want them to do… like taking your food. Wouldn’t you be a little ornery if you caught one redhanded?

  4. Frances says:

    We are in the bear’s territory–WE ARE THE VISITORS!!!! I’m glad to hear that they aren’t looking to destroy this bear. Hunters and other recreationists need to take proper precautions when out with wildlife, but basically we are the intruders.

  5. Steve says:

    I hope he recovers quickly. A broken arm is a pretty big deal.
    Dawn, that kind of attack is pretty characteristic of grizzlies — the bear perceives something as a threat and responds to the threat with aggression. Once they have “neutralized” the threat, the attack is often over. There have been numerous sightings of a female grizzly with cubs in that upper West Fork country this summer — the attack he describes sounds a lot like a female with cubs responding to a perceived threat. It’s not that Mr. Mange “provoked” the bear, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no way to totally prevent this kind of thing from happening.

  6. wild@heart says:


    If you can’t take the wild maybe you should consider moving to Colorado

  7. Brad says:

    Myself and a friend had three grizzilies (a large male, a sow and what appeared to be her two year old cub) follow our scent trail into our bow hunting camp on Saterday Sept. 11 at 7:15 P.M. Our camp is about four air miles from the head of Fossil creek. They showed no fear of us and appeared to be interested in us, or our four horses and were only turned away by multible pistol shots fired over their heads. We last saw them headed in the direction of the mauling I have hunted, fished and hiked throughout Montana for over forty years with many bear stories to tell. My concern is that I would have been put on trial if we had been forced to kill one of these bears that most probbily mauled Mr. Mange

  8. This bear attack just points out the idiocy of MT FWP and federal plans to have grizzly bears in all the small mountain ranges and fishing rivers in SW MT. The USFWS has even said they can be in small towns if there are less than 129 people per square mile. If Virginia City loses a few people we could have grizzlies on the courthouse lawn. These highly aggressive and predaceous YNP grizzlies which eat a lot of meat do not fit well in the Gravelly Mountains where there are 10,000 domestic ewes plus lambs, 5,000 cattle plus calves, 60,000 elk hunter days, and many thousands of fishing days on area rivers. Radicals want these bear popultions so thick that bear pressure will move them North to Glacier Park and west to Idaho harming the human population. See the Wildlands Project. This is not the northern Rocky Mountain Front where I worked 1963-1980 with grizzlies.
    NW MT grizzlies eat 95 per cent vegetative materials compared to 80 per cent animal matter for males and 50 per cent for females in the YNP area.

  9. CB says:

    Mr. Menge is a friend of mine and I can vouch for his knowledge of the wilderness. He knew the risks as well as the rewards for bowhunting for elk in the Gravellys. When I visited him in the hospital yesterday evening, he was in good spirits, despite his serious injuries to his arm, hand, neck and head. In his own words, he stated that he asked the FWP not to pursue the bear. He also continued to say that the bear is not a threat to humans, any more than we are a threat to the bear, when we are in its home. Things like this happen when humans are challenging bears for their own food sources. Would you be irritated if you came home and the bear was in your refridgerator?
    ALLEN, you are correct that the bears you saw in the 60’s and 70’s are not the same bears. Since that time, the population has struggled to recover from our previous decimation of their population. And since that time, habitat fragmentation and climate change have changed their food sources. Remember, you are a recreationalist human and not a native to this land. The 10,000 domestic ewes, 5,000 cattle and 60,000 hunter days that you stated exist in the area are all putting pressure on a species that was here first. I am not a radical for thinking that a grizzly deserves to exist in its natural environment. Recreationalists, hunters and Montanas of all sorts could benefit from fewer livestock overgrazing our federal lands anyway! the overgrazing of livestock does more damage to the elk populations than the existance of bears.

  10. Rex says:

    Hey, I hunt in Grizzly country too. I know the risk. It also adds to the experiance to know that these majestic animals are out in that country with me. I have seen their fresh tracks in mine. Thats close enough for me. But it would be a sad notion to think we can’t share the landscape. They belong in Montana forever.

  11. Glenn Rosenberger says:

    We were in the area camping where this attack took place. We picked up two young hunters (Dan and Bryan) that heard Matt screaming an “unforgetable” scream. They asked for a ride back to their camp after walking the injured Matt from the woods to meet up with a buddy who then drove Matt for medical attention. Dan and Bryan said they had listened and waited from their positions. They then yelled trying to find the person and sorce of the screaming. Dan and Bryan adminstered the best first aid they could provide to Matt.
    I asked if Matt said why the bear attacked? Matt told them he stumbled on the sow and two cubs while quietly hunting in the woods. It appears to me from the story I received from Dan and Bryan the bear was protecting her young.
    I would protect my children as well as I am sure all of you would. It sounds as though Matt believes the same. He probably has the best right to judge!

  12. CB you have made a lot of opinion statements without references to back them up. We have a minumum of 1,445 grizzly bears south of Canada according to the Interagency Grizzly Bear website. There are more than 650 in the Yellowstone area, more than 765 in the Northern Continental Divide area and another 25 or 30 in the NW south of Canada.

    Lets look at the grizzly reduction which resulted in listing in 1975. They were declared recovered by the USFWS recently but a federal judge favored by some environmental groups relisted them. Delisting is again underway in more than one venue. The Craigheads reported 160 grizzly bears were killed in YNP area from Glenn Cole polices in YNP 1969-1972. Glenn believed there were garbage bears and wild bears, two separate populations in the park. He was wrong. According to Dick Knight, PH.D who followed Craigheads as the grizzly rearch leader Cole’s mis-managment nearly wiped out the black bears with about 400 killed. I knew all the mentioned people and Knight is a friend of over 40 years. Thomas McNamee in The Grizzly Bear reported some on this and there is a lot of info available from other sources. Glenn Cole did not like bears. Cliff Martinka former Glacier National Park chief biologist and my office mate in wildife graduate school in Bozeman who did his M.S. research under Cole in Grand Teton National Park told me Cole tried to kill any bear that came near their camps.

    You stated that grizzly bears should be allowed to return to their former habitat. I suspect the wet Gallatin Valley around Bozeman was excellent grizzly habitat in 1860. They really like wet creek and river bottoms. Where will you put them now? Grizzlies and wolves have about wiped out the elk herd on the upper Gallatin as it dropped from 1,500 in 2005 to less than 200 in 2009 according to FWP.

    You don’t mention your range management credentials but you accuse ranchers of overgrazing the Gravelly Mountains. Please tell us where that is occurring and how you measured the over use. Let me tell you I differ with your opionion because I took most of the graduate range courses at MSU, have managed game ranges and livestock ranches, have run thousands of Daubenmire plots and utilization and trend transects since 1963. I also know many of the ranchers in the Gravelly Mountains and including some whose families have been in business here over 100 years. Some have M.S. degrees in range management. Also we have well educated USFS range people monitoring the grazing.

  13. Bryce Wright says:

    I too know Mr Menge and can vouch for his knowledge of the wilderness and hunting abilities. This was an unprovoked attack, period. Attacks like this happen for no reason every year, just look to the campers who were killed in Yellowstone this year. It was shown that they did nothing to provoke an attack either and they were killed.

    To all of you people who offer your “strong opinions” about animals and who was here first, grow up. We can all use the wilderness together, recreationalists, hunters, etc. It’s those of you whom are short sighted and ignorant (this is not a derogatory word, look it up)about the wild causing the small issues to become huge issues. If you are not aware of your surroundings and are unprepared for potential incidents in the wilderness, you’re the people that ruin it for the rest of us. Take a class, read a book by a reputable source, something if you intend on being in the wild.

  14. Barb says:

    Hey Glenn, the 2 young hunters were Dan and RYAN, not Bryan. Ryan is my son and I am so proud of him that he was able to help Matt. Good luck to all of the hunters and be aware.

  15. menge says:

    I did not see the cubs nor the sow until she was almost on me. Greg Lemon, I told the FWP to not tell the press. Please remove this article.

    I am healing well for all those who care. Thanks to Dan and Ryan for catching up to me and helping me with my turnicate and assistance in bringing my pack and bow back to the truck.

  16. Ernie says:

    Hope you are healing up Menge…. this is the risk many of us bowhunters take every year…we KNOW this “could” happen…but we still go hunting in OUR woods and mountains… the areas the bears share with us…we share with them… :0)

  17. Ryan says:

    Matt, this is Ryan. It sounds like your your doing ok. I would like to get in contact with you. If you would like to do the same e-mail me your number.

  18. Ted Bradshaw says:

    In my opinion, there are a lot of details being left out of this Grizzly attack. There is good reason, I’m sure, why the FWP are not pursuing this bear and it’s not at the request or discretion of Mr. Menge. I am eager to read more as more of the details begin to surface.

  19. Mike says:

    Yo Matt! Cousin Mike here from the Eastside (Seattle). We’re having our own bear problems (black bears wondering the burbs looking for an easy snack) but nothing like you encountered. Hang in there buddy and get well soon!

  20. Zeb says:

    Lots of good information in the comments I read. I’m glad Mr.Menge is healing and not dead! My opinions might piss some of you off but that’s ok. It’s nothing personal. FWP mentioned the Grizzly Range has expanded over the recent years but they forgot to mention they helped it because they are transplanting problem Grizzlies in the Gravelies rather than killing them. I’ve hunted the Gravelies since 1982 and until 1997 we never had any signs of Grizzlies in the West Fork area only Black bears. I’m sure some may have been in the West Fork area or passing through but not a significant population and no problems to speak of as I remember. The Grizzly bear has gotten way out of control in Montana just like the wolves and they need to be majorly reduced again and with that they will fear man like they were created to. I love it when people say we need to be careful when we are in the mountains because we are in the bears home. Yes we deffinetly need to be careful absolutely, but don’t think for a a minute that mankind & animals are equal we are not! Yes they live there but if they remain a problem we have the option to getting rid of them also. Man rules in every case and don’t forget God put animals on this earth for man to use, eat and enjoy….Not the other way around. The current way of managing the Grizz & Wolves is not working.

  21. Bill says:

    It is interesting that there are more bears that are considered “bears that are expanding or drifting out of the Yellowstone core area” according to the mentioned bear expert- Kevin Frey. There doesn’t seem to be the same amount of a local food source for the grizzly bears in Yellowstone that they had…say 10-15 years ago. Where have all of the Elk gone??? Could I suggest to you… HOW-HOW-HOWLLLLLL? Friends, we are simply enjoying the fruits of having the more balanced eco-system that was shoved down our throats and now includes wolves. Sorry for you Matt.

  22. tito jones says:

    Come on Zeb you really think that?? Usually tough to sway a creationist I know, but man’s attempt to control nature has time and time again been proven futile. We usually just end up failing, wasting money or killing a bunch of people. Nature and more specifically predators have been evolving and extincting for millions of years without our influences. That of course has changed now. Bottom line is this poor guy succumbed to one of the most serious consequences on stealth archery hunting. and man does not rule everything—this case proves the point. How about coexisting and properly managing our natural resources, i.e. hunting, for both our benefit and natures benefit. That would at least gives us a little more time for productive life before a huge asteroid wipes the surface of the earth clean and really shows us who’s BOSS…….

  23. Zeb says:

    Tito I agree with some of what you said. Man does screw up so much what you call nature and I call God’s creation. Like dumping more wolves in an area which all ready had them and call it re-introducing. As long as our government can keep making the majority believe lies they can make them accept anything. Coexisting has become the new buzz word of the anti’s lately.

  24. […] attack came five days after a lone archery hunter from Bozeman was attacked in the Fossil Creek area. The two attacks were about three and half miles apart. The two attacks are the only grizzly bear […]

  25. Dawn says:

    You are right an asteriod would be coming from the Boss (if or when it comes and Zeb probably agrees with you on that one… 😉

  26. John Karpenko says:

    Matt, I was in the same area, you may have seen our wheelers near the bridge, on Sunday 9-12. In the morning at around 8AM we saw a sow, medium sized dark brown with two cubs,one brown one more cinamon, looking to be 2 season cubs. The bears saw us at ~250 yards and moved up hill toward the divide between the drainages. We were west of Fossil Creek. Regardless, I am sorry to hear this happened to you and wish you a speedy and full recovery. We “ran” into the FWP and USFS 4-wheeling around the country side in the PM and confronted them before realizing what had happened. The bear appeared to not want human contact when we encountered her and the cubs. JJK

  27. Russell says:

    this is to chuck, i really hope you are being sarcastic. Bears don’t have to be provoked to attack they are just doin what comes natural. However Montana needs to implement a Grizzly season again. there are more than enough to harvest some especially in this area of montana. I too hunt in the Gravely range both Bow and rifle, with a hunting partner. We take risks hunting there, but realize bears do attack. I however don’t want to see bears endangered, but we do need to put a quota on Grizzlies in this area. Animals need to be afraid of humans for our sake and theirs.

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