Steve Stevenson, a hunter widely reported to have been killed by a 400-pound grizzly bear last week during an encounter near the Idaho-Montana border, was in fact killed by a gunshot wound inflicted by his partner.
The surprising revelation was made Friday by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in Montana. Sheriff Roby Bowe told the Associated Press that investigators were "fairly convinced," however, that shooting of Stevenson was an accident.
Lincoln County Coroner Steve Schnackenberg told the Idaho Statesman that there were clear signs that Stevenson had been attacked by the bear. He added, "We're pretty sure the bullet passed through the bear before it got to him."
Stevenson, 39, an out-of-state hunter from Nevada who was married with two young daughters, was pursuing black bears in the forested Buckhorn Mountain area with Ty Bell, 20. According to an earlier AP report, Bell shot and wounded what he believed was a black bear. (Grizzly bears are protected and cannot be legally harvested.)
But it turned out to be a male grizzly, which turned on both hunters as they tracked the animal through the dense forest. Stevenson, according to the report, yelled out to draw the grizzly away from Bell. Bell, according to the Idaho Statesman, shot the bear several times as it attacked Stevenson.
A final report is being prepared by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. It will then be reviewed by the county attorney.