A Wyoming man hunting elk in Grand Teton National Park was attacked by a bear Sunday, but managed to call for help after the bear left the area.
Details were sketchy: The 32-year-old Jackson man could not definitively say whether it was a grizzly or black bear that attacked him, and the extent of his injuries were not immediately known, although they were not considered life-threatening.
Grand Teton spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said the man was hunting along the east side of the Snake River between Blacktail Ponds and Glacier View Overlooks when he was attacked about 11:30 a.m.
The man was carrying bear spray and following the recommended protocols for hunting in bear country, she said. The hunter told rangers that when he spotted the bear he dropped to the ground and covered his head, she added. It was not immediately clear if the bear was acting defensively, or viewed him as prey, said Ms. Anzelo-Sarles.
However, reports that the hunter had fired shots at the bear were in error, the spokeswoman said.
"It took about 45 minutes from the time of his call for the first responder to arrive on scene. He was about three-quarters and a mile off the road, in the river bottom," said Ms. Anzelo-Sarles.
The hunter received initial treatment in the field, and was transported to the road in a litter. An ambulance transported him to a Jackson hospital. Rangers were conducting an investigation Sunday afternoon to see if they could piece together what happened.
Attacks by bears in the park are extremely rare. There have been six reported bear attacks in the history of Grand Teton National Park- none were fatal, according to park records. In 2007 a female grizzly bear with cubs mauled a jogger near Jackson Lake Lodge in a surprise encounter.
Grand Teton's enabling legislation allows for a limited elk hunt in the park. All hunters participating in the elk reduction program are provided with a bear information and safety packet. The following guidelines are suggested for participating hunters:
* Hunt with a partner.
* Carry bear spray (required).
* Avoid “dark” timber during mid-day when bears may be using a day-bed.
* Have a predetermined plan of action for retrieving harvested game from the field.
* Be extra cautious after making a kill and when hunting in areas where animals have recently been harvested.
* Avoid hunting in areas where fresh bear sign is repeatedly observed.
* Avoid gut piles.