Boone and Crockett officially announced last Friday that a grizzly taken by Alaska hunter Larry Fitzgerald, 35, will enter the record books as the world's largest grizzly ever taken by a hunter.
During an elk hunt with hunting buddy Justin Powell near Fairbanks, Alaska, last September, the duo came across a set of massive, fresh bear tracks. Based on the size of the tracks, they decided to immediately drop the elk hunt and focus their efforts on the grizzly. After a three-hour stalk, Fitzgerald was able to make the shot at 20 yards with his Sako 300. And with just one shot, Fitzgerald became the new record holder.
"I'm not really a trophy hunter, or anything," Fitzgerald, 35, told FoxNews.com. "But I guess it is kind of cool."
Since its founding in 1887 by Teddy Roosevelt, the Boone and Crockett Club has served as the standard measurer for big game trophies and records. The Missoula, Mont., based organization collects trophy data either harvested or found by hunters to monitor wildlife populations and gauge management practices.
Boone and Crockett officially scored the new record grizzly skull at 27 and 6/16 inches.
Boone and Crockett scores bears based on skull length and width measurements. However, Fitzgerald's grizzly is not the largest skull on record. That title belongs to a skull found in 1976 by Gordon E. Scott near Lone Mountain, Alaska, and is 27 and 13/16 inches — 7/16 of an inch bigger than Fitzgerald's.
Still, that such a large Grizzly was so close to a heavily populated interior city is intriguing. Grizzlies are known to stay around coastal areas and are less likely to be found near cities.
"One would think that a relatively accessible area, with liberal bear hunting regulations to keep populations in line with available habitat and food, would be the last place to find one of the largest grizzly bears on record," said Richard Hale, chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club's Records of North American Big Game committee.
Although grizzlies are federally protected in the Lower 48 states, Alaska Department of Fish and Game have liberalized hunting regulations in the area and opened grizzly spring and fall seasons to both curtail the booming population of grizzlies, and to help balance and control bear predation on moose.
"Grizzly populations are doing well across all their ranges. That includes populations in the Lower 48 states that are currently federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, but will soon be up for delisting and management authority turned over to the watchful eye of state wildlife managers," Hale said.
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