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'Can I get reimbursed?' Golfers find an unexpected hazard in Montana – a grizzly bear

A Conrad, Montana, golf course had to shut down on Monday after a grizzly wandered onto the course, freaking out the players. Wildlife officials were able to tranquilize the bear and move it far, far away.
A Conrad, Montana, golf course had to shut down on Monday after a grizzly wandered onto the course, freaking out the players. Wildlife officials were able to tranquilize the bear and move it far, far away. Facebook/Crystal Hepp

Late Monday morning a woman had just started a round of golf at Pondera Golf Course in Conrad, Montana, when she ran back into the pro shop from the first hole.

"There's a bear on the course. Can I get reimbursed?" she asked manager Mikel Martin, who told the Great Falls Tribune of the encounter.

Martin told Fox Montana she didn't believe the woman at first. “I said there's no bear. Sure enough, apparently there was,” she told the TV station.

A few minutes after noon, a message popped up on the course's Facebook page.

"Bear on course, closed till further notice . Thanks."

Bear specialists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks arrived on the scene.

Wesley Sarmento, a bear management specialist, and a game warden from the department tracked the nearly 400-pound grizzly to a backyard on the north end of the golf course, he told the Tribune.

"It charged out from the brush at us, then did a tight 90-degree angle turn," said Sarmento, who figured the bear was just trying to find its way out of town. "The bear was terrified," he told the newspaper.

So were the golfers.

“I just saw a bunch of people running on the course," Martin told Fox Montana.

Jarek Shepard was on the course and never thought he'd encounter a hazard worse than water.

“A lot goes through my head," he told the TV station. "Here in town that doesn't happen too often, I was nervous and scared."

The wildlife workers tracked the bear to about 200 yards away from Jerry Hepp's backyard, where his wife, daughter and grandchildren were at the time, he told the Tribune.

"All of a sudden here comes four law enforcement vehicles, two fish and game vehicles, their lights all going," he said. "It could have got ugly pretty fast."

Sarmento managed to shoot the bear with a tranquilizer, and it was relocated to territory on the west side of the Continental Divide more hospitable than a golf course, Fox Montana reported.

The woman who demanded a refund got her money back, Martin told the Tribune.

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