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More than 1,000 grizzlies call the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem home. (NPS photo by Jim Peaco)

An elk hunter was mauled by a grizzly bear Saturday on the North Fork roughly 5 miles north of Wapiti near Grizzly Ridge before being rescued by Park County Search and Rescue and other emergency personnel. 

He is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to the initial report.

Upon notification of the incident, Game and Fish immediately responded to the scene. Its initial investigation indicates the hunter was attacked after a sudden encounter at close range with an adult female grizzly bear with two cubs. The female grizzly was killed by the hunter and his hunting partner, and G&F, in coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, euthanized her two cubs. The investigation is ongoing and is under the direction of the service.

“It was an unprovoked attack,” Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor Dan Smith said. “There was nothing that indicates the hunters had done anything that would provoke an attack.”

The hunter may have accidentally startled the bear, come too close to her cubs or approached an important food source, Smith said.

At 7:38 a.m. the Park County Sheriff’s Office Communications Division received an emergency 911 call from the injured hunter. The 45-year-old man advised dispatch that he had been mauled by a grizzly, had sustained injuries and needed assistance. He was approximately five miles from the highway. 

SAR, Guardian Helicopter 3 out of Riverton and a Cody Regional Health Ambulance were all immediately paged to respond. Meanwhile the injured hunter had made the decision to begin riding out of the wilderness with the rest of his hunting party to meet emergency responders.

The SAR ground team contacted the injured hunter at 9:34 a.m. on the north side of the Shoshone River. At 10:02 a.m. the hunter and ground team arrived at the staging area where he was received and treated by EMS personnel. He was then transported by Guardian Helicopter to Billings for further care at 10:15 a.m. 

“The service sends our thoughts to the injured individual as he recovers,” said Dan Coil, Special Agent in Charge for the F&W Service. “The service partners with states to manage grizzly bears in grizzly country and appreciates Wyoming Game and Fish responding to the incident.”

Due to the grizzly bear being listed as endangered Species Act, the F&W Service continues to work collaboratively with Wyoming and other states in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to manage grizzly bears as effectively as possible.

“The safety of outdoor recreationists is always at the forefront of our minds,” Smith said. “Our thoughts are with the individual who was injured and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Wyoming News Exchange contributed to this report

(7) comments

Keith Dahlem

More investigation into this incident needs to happen, not the aftermath but what lead up to the encounter, resident nonresident hunters, relationships involved??? Knowledge of the area and how to hunt in Grissly country.

LP ZIpp

I mean, if a bear attacks me, what am I going for first. A gun or bear spray? Sad what happened but to question this seems like people think a grizzly bear on top of them isn't going to invoke a fight or flight response.

Moral of the story at least the man is okay. Be thankful for life.

Dewey Vanderhoff

Yes or No: did the victim have bear spray , or just firearm(s) ?

charles polley

According to G&F head interview with Billings tv , yes he had bear spray

Richard Ashley

Really game and fish couldn't transport the cubs to a facility for care? In Helena MT when I lived there there was just such a facility for something like this. Now 3 Grizzlies dead. They are still endangered. Glad the hunter is ok but a tragedy for all.

Lauren Tibert Wells

Agree with Richard. Also, was there a chance bear spray could have been used instead of killing the sow?

Sarah Olson

I agree. It’s absolutely disgusting and deplorable they killed the mother. Then euthanized the cubs!? What part of wildlife conservation is this? They are endangered!!! Why would they kill the cubs instead of putting in a sanctuary

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