Game and Fish determined the Friday grizzly bear mauling of a Cody man in Sunlight Basin was a surprise encounter by a bear likely acting in a defensive manner.
G&F completed its investigation into the incident Tuesday and announced it findings. While they were not able to identify the bear, officials determined it likely broke off the attack after biting the man’s bear spray canister holstered on his hip and releasing the spray.
Last Friday, Spencer Smith, 41, was shed antler hunting in the East Painter Creek Drainage when he was injured by a grizzly bear. He was able to walk approximately 1.5 miles to his ATV after the attack where he was assisted by area Powell game warden Chris Queen. He was then flown by helicopter to a St. Vincent in Billings for treatment.
“This appears to be a surprise encounter that occurred at close range,” said Dan Smith Cody Regional supervisor. “The bear was likely behaving in a defensive manner resulting from an unexpected, close encounter.”
After the evacuation of Smith, G&F personnel investigate the scene of the encounter and discovered the tracks of a single, adult male grizzly bear. A daybed was found in heavy cover approximately 30 yards from the site of the attack. There was no sign of the bear in the vicinity during the investigation, but evidence at the scene indicated the bear was at or near the daybed at the time of the encounter.
Smith was hiking alone in steep, moderately heavy timber when the attack occurred.
G&F does not plan to take management action at this time, and no area closures have been implemented. G&F will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and will make management decisions in the best interest of public safety.
“This is a very traumatic experience for a person to go through,” Dan Smith said. “We wish Spencer the very best for a full and speedy recovery.”