One of the largest grizzly bears on record in the state of Montana is on permanent display at the Lincoln Ranger District office. The bear was a healthy 12-year-old male, weighing 830 pounds and would have stood approximately eight feet tall before he was killed by a vehicle on Highway 200 five miles west of Lincoln. He is the third-largest grizzly on record in Montana.
Before dawn on October 17, 2007, a pick-up truck hit a grizzly bear on Hwy 200 five miles west of Lincoln, fracturing his skull and killing him instantly.
In the weeks after the big bear’s death, there was considerable state-wide interest in where he should be displayed- the University of Montana, as a symbol of the school mascot or the community of Lincoln. School children from the area wrote heartfelt letters and essays on where the bear should be displayed. The residents, communities, and children in the Upper Blackfoot valley are pleased the decision was made for the grizzly to come back to Lincoln.
The bear has become a tourist attraction for Lincoln and has been used to help teach visitors about bear awareness.
This bear was born during hibernation in 1995. In July 1996, he was captured, tattooed, and radio-collared near Choteau, MT, along the Rocky Mountain Front. When captured, this bear and his sibling brother were feeding on livestock grain on a ranch near Choteau. To avoid potential conflicts, both were captured and relocated to separate locations.
Being relocated 33 miles away does not stop a bear from returning to a known food source. Only 13 days later this bear was back at the same ranch looking for more grain. This time, the grain was removed and he moved on.
In October 1996, he was hit by a vehicle west of Choteau. Biologists who were able to locate and observe him were concerned he might not survive his injuries. He survived that accident, and his last radio collar location was recorded in 1998 along the Rocky Mountain Front.
In 2004, hair samples collected as part of a DNA research study identified him at several locations between Lincoln and Seeley Lake. This DNA evidence and possible sightings suggest he lived in the Blackfoot river drainage for at least three to four years.
Shortly before the death of this bear he was photographed with a motion sensing camera in the middle of the night, a short distance from where he was killed.
The taxidermy for the bear was donated by members of the United Taxidermist Association. Four taxidermists from Montana and one from Pennsylvania donated their skills and artistic talent. Widespread publicity and interest in the bear created a unique educational opportunity so the taxidermy work work was performed at the Lincoln Community Center and was open to the public.
News and Background Links
- Missoulian: Beautiful brute: Famed Lincoln Grizzly changing locals’ views about wildlife
- The Spokesman Review: Grizzly has Lincoln standing tall