A US Forest Service law enforcement officer was killed Wednesday in the first fatal bear attack this century in the Glacier National Park area. Authorities say 38-year-old Brad Treat was killed in Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana on a trail just outside the national park, ABC News reports. "Treat was mountain biking on a trail with another male at the time of the attack," Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said in a statement. "It appears they likely surprised the bear and Treat was taken off his bike by the bear. He was pronounced dead on the scene." Authorities initially said the bear, which has not yet been captured, was a grizzly, but they now say it could have been a black bear, reports KRTV.
"Brad was an integral member of our area law enforcement team and a friend to us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family tonight," Curry said. Treat, who grew up in the area, was known as one of the state's best distance runners, "but he was also a kind-hearted person who cared about people," former coach Paul Jorgensen tells the Flathead Beacon. The AP notes that before this attack, there had been 10 bear-related deaths recorded in Glacier National Park since it was founded in 1910, most recently a hiker who was killed by three bears in 1998. There were no fatal attacks recorded before 1967, when, in events that became the subject of the book and documentary Night of the Grizzlies, two young women were killed in separate attacks on the same night. (A New Mexico marathon runner played dead during a bear attack earlier this month.)