BILLINGS — A hunter was injured by a grizzly bear west of Cody, Wyoming, on Saturday morning (October 2, 2021). The hunter rode out to the trailhead and was flown by helicopter to a hospital where he received treatment for what was reported as injuries that were not life-threatening.
The Game & Fish Department responded to the scene and an initial investigation indicated the hunter was attacked after a sudden encounter at close range with an adult female grizzly bear and her two cubs.
The female grizzly was killed by the hunter and his hunting partner.
The Park County (Wyoming) Sheriff's Office released this information about the incident:
On Saturday October 2, 2021 at 7:38 A.M. the Park County Sheriff’s Office Communications Division received an emergency 911 call from an injured hunter. The 45 year-old-male advised dispatch that he had been mauled by a grizzly, had sustained injury, and needed assistance. He was approximately five miles from the highway.
Park County Search and Rescue (PCSAR), 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 PCSAR 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 and 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. PCSAR Personnel cleared staging at 10:34 A.M. and returned to Cody.
The hunter's wife posted on Facebook on Tuesday, October 5: "He is home today and doing well. We are grateful the helicopter was there and able to get him to Billings quickly. I'm grateful to all who helped, and most importantly his hunting mates who knew great first aid and quick thinking getting him out to help quickly."
Wyoming wildlife officials, in coordination with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, euthanized the two cubs.
Although bear attacks and wildlife encounters regularly make the news in the Rocky Mountain Region, grizzly attacks are rare.
Dan Smith, regional wildlife supervisor for Wyoming Game & Fish Department, said, "It’s not common. Since 2010, we’ve had 30 injuries and three fatalities involving grizzly bears."
Smith said wildlife officials made the decision to euthanize the two grizzly cubs. Grizzly bears are on the Endangered Species List, and Wyoming officials at the scene talked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make the choice, Smith said.
"Ultimately, due to the remote location, due to the condition of the cubs and the situation at hand, unfortunately those cubs had to be euthanized," Smith said.
Smith said the cubs were born this spring. Bear cubs will normally be born in the den in spring and spend the summer with their mother to fatten up for winter hibernation. After the winter, the cubs will generally strike out on their own without further help from their mother.
Smith said these cubs were not old enough to provide for themselves on their own.
“These were cubs born this spring. With their size and that location, they would have not been able to survive the winter on their own. They would have either starved to death or they would have been eaten by another bear or wolf," Smith said.
The fish and game personnel didn't have the option to trap and relocate the cubs to a place that could rear them, due to their remote location five miles up the trail.
“Unfortunately, with that remote location, there was not really a way to do that. This is not a place that you can drive to or get traps to. So trying to capture them and move them out of that location would have been extremely difficult, if possible at all," Smith said.
This time of year in the early fall, bears are hungry and trying to fatten up for winter hibernation, Smith said. The very dry summer hasn't done the bears any favors, forcing them to lower elevations to find berries and other food, Smith said.