A Powell game warden was charged by a grizzly bear and was forced to shoot and kill it Wednesday while off-duty in an area northwest of Cody.

Chris Queen was elk hunting in the Little Sunlight Basin when the incident occurred. In speaking with investigators, Queen said he was returning to his horses at dusk on Wednesday evening at about 6:30 p.m. when he came upon a grizzly sow with three cubs. Seeing Queen, the sow initiated what he immediately recognized as a “bluff charge.”

A “bluff charge” is an instance of a grizzly bear or other large animal moving aggressively toward a potential threat or prey, then abruptly stopping without attacking. Queen took no action at that time, feeling the sow would return to her cubs and move off. He slowly backed away, attempting to gain distance from the bears.

However after returning to her cubs, the sow began exhibiting even more aggressive behavior, Queen said. Suddenly, it lowered its head and went into a full charge directly at Queen. It was then that he discharged his hunting rifle, killing the charging grizzly. It fell only a few feet from where he stood.

 Sheriff Scott Steward commented that his agency was asked to conduct the investigation in conjunction with DCI by the Game and Fish Department.

“It is not unusual for an agency with concurrent jurisdiction, to be asked to assume investigative responsibility for an incident when a member of a law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction is involved,” Steward said. “This maintains the integrity of the investigation and eliminates even the perception of impropriety.”

The investigation is ongoing at this time. Investigators are being assisted by members of the Game and Fish Department including bear experts. G&F are currently assessing the condition of the cubs and will continue to monitor their status.

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