A Wyoming man who was attacked by a bear in Grand Teton National Park says when he first saw the bear it was only five or 10 yards from him. Timothy Hix added that he tried to ward off the bruin with bear spray, but couldn't get the canister from its holster in time, park officials said.
The 32-year Jackson man escaped the incident Sunday morning with relatively minor injuries.
According to a park release, Mr. Hix had been scouting for an elk in the Snake River bottom south of Glacier View overlook when the bear came at him about 11:30 a.m. The hunter told rangers that when the bear, which he thought was a grizzly, charged he tried to pull his bear spray from its holster but couldn't do it quickly enough.
Mr. Hix said said he then dropped to the ground, covered his head, and remained still. He said the bear made contact with him as he dropped to the ground and then bit him at least twice before running away, according to park officials.
While the investigation is on-going, rangers believe this was a surprise encounter with a single grizzly bear. Park managers temporarily closed approximately a quarter-mile around the area where the mauling occurred.
Mr. Hix was transported by park ambulance to St. John Medical Center in Jackson. As of noon on Monday he was reported to be in “good condition” and was expected to be discharged Monday afternoon, according to the hospital.
The man had a permit to participate in the park’s Elk Reduction Program in Wyoming hunt area 75. Rangers remind park users that only those who have been issued a permit to participate in the park’s Elk Reduction Program can lawfully take elk in Grand Teton National Park. The Elk Reduction Program is a cooperative management tool used to regulate elk population numbers and was established by Congress in the 1950 enabling legislation that created Grand Teton.