CODY, Wyo. — An off-duty game warden shot and killed a grizzly bear that charged him in a remote area of northwest Wyoming, sheriff’s and wildlife officials said Friday.

The encounter between the warden, who’d been elk hunting, and adult female grizzly with three cubs happened Wednesday evening in Shoshone National Forest between Cody and Yellowstone National Park, according to the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

Wildlife officials were monitoring the cubs in the backcountry after their mother’s death.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department game warden Christopher Queen, 48, of Powell, told sheriff’s investigators he saw the bear when he returned to his horses.

The grizzly charged once and returned to its cubs without attacking. The bear then became more aggressive, lowering its head and charging again, according to Queen’s account.

Queen told investigators he killed the bear with his rifle just a few feet from where he stood.

Queen used his cell phone to immediately report the shooting Wednesday evening, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Investigators with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and Park County Sheriff’s Office were investigating. They made a trip to the area.

The Game and Fish Department normally would be responsible for investigating the shooting of a grizzly bear but asked the sheriff’s office and DCI to step in, Sheriff Scott Steward said.

“This maintains the integrity of the investigation and eliminates even the perception of impropriety,” Steward said in a release.

Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem were federally protected under the Endangered Species Act until their removal from the threatened species list last summer. Illegally killing one remains a high misdemeanor under state law and is punishable by a year in jail and $10,000 fine.