Taking in a spring black bear hunt northeast of Montana earlier this month, a black bear hunter reportedly shot and killed a mature grizzly bear.  Given the fact that the animal killed was one under federal protections, few details have since been released.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with its partners at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, is actively investigating the self-reported killing of a grizzly bear by a black bear hunter in the Johnson Creek drainage near Bonner,” FWS spokesman Ryan Moehring wrote in a press release on Tuesday.

“This is an active, ongoing investigation and the Service will share more information with the public when the circumstances of the case permit.”

In these types of investigations, Moehring stated that these types of investigations are obviously sensitive in nature and require a tight-lipped approach as per U.S. Department of Justice policy.

“Grizzly bears are a listed species (protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act), so there’s no surprise there’s federal involvement in a grizzly shooting,” Moehring said. “Whenever there’s been an incident like this, the Fish and Wildlife Service has an active role to play.”

Although Montana’s spring bear season is underway until the 15th of June, the incident is leaving officials and residents puzzled.  With each spring bear hunting license purchase, applicants must pass a certification test that demonstrates their ability to tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear.