Author Topic: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)  (Read 1426 times)

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Offline amywally

[Great Divide section 1 and Lewis & Clark section 6]
In Ovando, a bear attacked and killed a bicycle camper around 3:30 AM Tuesday morning, July 6th, 2021.  Authorities are currently searching for the bear, and all tent camping in Ovando is closed until further notice. Nearby campgrounds are still open at this time, but be aware that bears can travel up to 20 miles in a day. The Powell County Sheriff is asking travelers to avoid the area if possible, and to use extreme caution. Always carry bear spray, and secure your food, garbage, and other attractants well away from your bike/tent. Do not travel alone, or after dark. The sheriff has set up bear traps in the area; if you see the traps please stay far away and do not disturb them. This is an active situation and may change quickly. For more information, see a news article here: https://advcy.link/ovandobear
« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 05:00:34 pm by amylippus »

Offline John Nettles

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2021, 04:56:25 pm »
So sad to hear.  That camp site is one of my favorite.

Offline ray b

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2021, 09:26:52 pm »
Thanks for posting.

We are always saddened by a cyclist's death, and especially on tour. Sympathy to family and friends who might read this thread.

From the AP - "Officials did not say exactly where the attack occurred, but [Sheriff] Roselles said there were other people camping in the vicinity of the attack."

The article makes it sound like the cyclist-only camping in town.

That would be odd behavior for a bear, indeed. Was just in the area 10 days ago. The heat seemed to be driving folks mad - perhaps a similar effect on wildlife.

Heading back to Roosville later this week to start my through-trip on the GDMBR, so will be curious about details and analysis of cause.

“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2021, 09:28:59 am »


The article makes it sound like the cyclist-only camping in town.

That would be odd behavior for a bear, indeed. Was just in the area 10 days ago. The heat seemed to be driving folks mad - perhaps a similar effect on wildlife.


A story I read said it happened just outside of town. Also, a bear had recently been spotted in town on, I think, security cam footage.

As for the connection to the heat/drought, here is one take on it:

 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/26/california-drought-rattlesnakes-bears

Offline John Nettles

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2021, 10:29:15 am »
My guess is that it is the Harry Morgan campground that is a few miles southeast of Orvando along the river.  The article states it was along the river so it could not be in town.

Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2021, 10:59:35 am »
The article said he was part of a group and there were other cyclists camped there and one used bear spray.
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Offline jamawani

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2021, 12:18:47 pm »
It is a tragedy that this young woman lost her life.
It should also serve as a reminder to practice safe camping in the Northern Rockies.

Never - ever - eat in your tent. Not in Montana, not in New Jersey.
Food aromas stay on your tent long after humans can smell them.
Don't bring panniers or packs with food into your tent - this also includes soaps / toothpaste.

If the campground has bear boxes, use them.  Only take out what you need and don't leave any food out.
Hang your food packs - ideally 100 yards downwind; 15 ft. off the ground; 8 feet from the trunk.
Sometimes you can't find all of these - but distance and downwind are very important.

I carry 50 ft. of climbers rope and a caribiner. (Works also as a clothesline for drying)
Practice throwing the rope tied to a rock over a high branch - it does take a little practice.

I have had bears circle and sniff my tent in the middle of the night camping in the high country.
I can assure you, I am wide awake while this happens.
One time, there were clear grizzly tracks in the wet soil the next morning.

I'm not sure whether I am just lucky or not.
But I have always used strict, safe backcountry camping techniques when it comes to bears.

Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2021, 12:48:22 pm »
I have switched to a bear canister which fits perfectly on my front rack with a bit of closed cell foam under it to prevent a rattle. Bear bagging is a talent everyone should practice. I use parachute cord and two fairly balanced food bags. Rather than tie off to a tree trunk I toss the rope over a branch well out from the trunk - too small to support a bear (even a cub) but large enough that the bear cannot break it off and it will hold your food without sagging significantly. I make sure that I have a long stick to reach the bags with a branch stub to hook the bags.

Tie off the first bag and hoist almost all the way to the branch - be sure not to snag it on the branch. Now tie the second bag off to the other end and place the extra rope in the bag. Use the stick to push the second bag up level to the first bag. This method is used often in favor of the tie-off back to a tree which bears have figured out.

I use a bear can now because it is required in some places, it is water proof, most of all RODENT PROOF, and can double as a wash basin for clothes, and keeps food scents off my panniers and clothing. The small one from REI will hold about 5 days of food for two if you are shopping like a backpacker.
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Offline amywally


Offline ray b

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2021, 09:20:57 pm »
Tragic.

Some details of the attack serve to reinforce the oft reiterated rules about food storage found above - no matter where one camps. (Black bear and javelina can also ruin one's night.)

As suggested by prior reports, the campers were using the cyclist-only camp sites in town. That might have given them a false sense of security.

"The grizzly bear entered Ovando Monday morning and went to an area near the post office at about 3 a.m. where the victim was sleeping in a tent, according to a news release.

Another couple in her party were sleeping in a tent nearby.

The bear initially woke the campers but then ran away. The three campers removed food from their tents, secured it, and went back to bed."

From: https://www.kpax.com/news/western-montana-news/derails-emerging-in-fatal-ovando-grizzly-bear-attack
« Last Edit: July 07, 2021, 09:26:56 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2021, 08:08:47 am »

As suggested by prior reports, the campers were using the cyclist-only camp sites in town. That might have given them a false sense of security.

I have been wondering the same thing. They had food in their tents and only secured it after they knew there was a bear around. Wondering if there were bear lockers available. 

Also wondering if, given what was known, getting back into the tent was the right thing to do. I am no expert, but it seems like that opens you up to being surprised.

Offline amywally

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2021, 01:01:20 pm »
UPDATE: The bear that was likely involved in the attack has been killed.

Offline ray b

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2021, 01:52:32 pm »
Amy - many thanks for monitoring and providing follow-up.
Seems unlikely that two large brown bears would become this aggressive.

From the Powell County Sheriff's Department (emphasis mine):


Powell County Sheriff's Office
3 hrs ·
*** Update on the Ovando Grizzly***

Over the last couple of days, Officials have followed up on multiple bear sightings in the Ovando area. Last night, the Powell County Sheriff's Office took a report from a resident who came home and found her door ripped off and large claw marks were present. A short time later a male grizzly bear was killed in the area. Samples were immediately taken from the bear and were sent to a testing facility where we hope to make positive identification within the next couple of days. Early indications are that this is likely the bear that was involved in Tuesdays attack.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2021, 02:00:34 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2021, 11:32:01 am »
Amy - many thanks for monitoring and providing follow-up.
Seems unlikely that two large brown bears would become this aggressive.

From the Powell County Sheriff's Department (emphasis mine):


Powell County Sheriff's Office
3 hrs ·
*** Update on the Ovando Grizzly***

Over the last couple of days, Officials have followed up on multiple bear sightings in the Ovando area. Last night, the Powell County Sheriff's Office took a report from a resident who came home and found her door ripped off and large claw marks were present. A short time later a male grizzly bear was killed in the area. Samples were immediately taken from the bear and were sent to a testing facility where we hope to make positive identification within the next couple of days. Early indications are that this is likely the bear that was involved in Tuesdays attack.


I read a post on another forum saying that the bear appeared to have a neck absess and was not well. Poor guy.

Offline WilliamJack

Re: Bicycle Camper killed by grizzly bear in Ovando, MT (July 6, 2021)
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2021, 01:26:46 am »
hm...