Grand Teton National Park Officials ID Bear Victim, Investigation Ongoing

Grand Teton National Park officials have temporarily closed an area of the park in the wake of a bear attack Sunday. NPS graphic.

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.

Comments

To provide for hunter safety, Grand Teton National Park should urge hunters in grizzly country to use the two-hand safe carry for their rifle, and keep a round in the chamber, safety on. That lets you get a shot off quickly. Instead, GTNP tells hunters to carry bear spray and know how to use it. Lotta good that did Mr. Hix.
In 2007, Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioner Vic Workman first saw a grizzly in full charge at a distance of 30 feet--sound familiar--yet he was still able to fire a shot with his rifle. The muzzle blast and flash caused the bear to swere aside, and Workman was unharmed.
Hunters in GTNP must be deputized by the NPS before they get an elk hunting permit. Seems like the NPS should offer its deputies some realistic advice on how to use their firearms for self-defense in grizzly country.

Here's a better two-hand rule: Two hands on your steering wheel as you drive to a hunting area outside the park.

Ah, yes, Dave, because all bear encounters are created equal, aren't they.
Mr. Hix had barely any time to do much of anything, firearm OR bear spray. When he realized that, he did
exactly the right thing and rolled into a ball and played dead, and came
away with relatively minor injuries. Had he used his firearm and wounded the bear there's an equal chance it would've caused the animal to become more agressive, not less as you imply.

"Here's a better two-hand rule: Two hands on your steering wheel as you drive to a hunting area outside the park."

Yep those bears are darn smart and NEVER venture outside of NPS boundaries

So all you need is a muzzleblast to deter a grizzly? Grizzlies are so amped up when charging many wouldn't know the difference between a muzzleblast miss or hit for quite sometime. Do you take that chance. Once the bear knows it's injured that just keeps the adrenaline plugged in to the wall socket, and more than likely you will end up severely mauled or dead...plain and simple. Mr. Hix did the right thing if he couldn't get to his spray in time. The bear bit him a few times but when it deemed him to no longer be threat it left. Smart move.

Two hands to use pepper spray....yes! Drop the gun with it's safe on and use the spray. If time doesn't allow then hit the ground and cover up. More times that not you will walk away with no life threatening injuries once the bear sees you are no longer a threat. If you are in the small percentage of hunters that can take down a charging griz with one shot.....then be my guest.....but you better have nerves of steel and a gun that can do the job.

During hunter education classes, instructors will never train people to drop a loaded rifle and reach for bear spray.
When crossing fences and other obstacles, hunters are taught to unload their rifle, put it under the fence, cross the fence, then pick up the rifle and reload.
You don't drop a loaded rifle. Period.

You may not want to drop a loaded rifle under normal circumstances, but when a bear is charging that's not normal.

Thank you Lee. Mr. Smith is rulebook oriented when it covers his point of view.

We don't know where Mr. Hix was carrying his rifle, so we don't know what he would have done if he was given the chance to use the spray. But my advice to Mr. Hix or anyone is always have your weapon on safe, and drop it if you have time to reach for the spray. If you have time for neither, hit the ground.....or if you are in the small percentage of people that can take down a grizzly with one shot ( as Mr. Smith feels he is), then give it a go. You better hope you can afford a good plastic surgeon or the many other specialists provided you survive.

Use the Spray!

Please the bears are in the river bottoms eating whatever food they can find, anyone hunting in a national park especially in those river bottoms with ample veg & berries better be ready to encounter bears, It is not a hunting season on bears.....they eat elk to. You might want to have your spray ready, like I did at LSR around noon on Sunday, oh yes I saw a grizzy along the river and left....Parks are not for hunting & killing endangered species.

I say shoot your gun AS you spray the bear with bear spray while blowing your bear whistle and at the same time hit the ground in a defensive ball--- practice will make perfect !!!LOL

The reason they allow hunting in the National Park (at least some) is that at some point man messed up the natural balance of things. This may be the removal the wolves (most common) or just the general interferrance of visitors. As a result, some species, particually Elk will reproduce and grow unchecked. This creates further unbalance. Man must then act as the top level predotor and thin the herds. This level of hunting is greatly controlled as noted in the article that you must have the appropriate permit.

The staff at Grand Teton has identified the number of Elk that need removed to make a healthy population and they allow hunters to do the work for them. This reduces the cost that would be incurred using other means and offers select hunters the opportunity to hunt game they desire.

There are two articles in today's Jackson Hole News about this incident and the root of the problem, which is the Elk Refuge and other elk feedlots in NW Wyoming. Without those horrible feedlots, which boost elk populations to an artificially high level, there wouldn't be any justification for an "elk reduction" hunt in Grand Teton National Park.
Get rid of the elk feedlots and you get rid of the elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park. Of course if you lower the elk population and reduce the tons of elk guts and carcasses grizzly bears feed on when they're in hyperphagia during hunting season, the grizzly population is going to drop. Grizzlies have already lost whitebark pine seeds as a critically important fall food.