Wyoming Hunter Attacked by Grizzly Bear in Scary Encounter

by Jennifer Shea

In a close call for the hunter, and a tragic run-in for the bears, a Wyoming man out elk hunting with a friend came face-to-face with a mother grizzly and her two cubs.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department are now investigating the incident.

This past Saturday morning, the hunter sustained non-life-threatening injuries after encountering the bear, County 10 reports.

The hunter then made it out to the trailhead. From there, he flew by helicopter to a local hospital to receive treatment.

Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Euthanize Cubs

Meanwhile, the mother bear died at the hands of the hunter and his hunting partner. Upon finding the cubs, Game and Fish, with the help of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, euthanized them.

The latter organization is leading the investigation. Their initial survey of the incident scene suggests the hunter had a sudden encounter at close range. They believe he killed the bear in self-defense.

“The Service sends our thoughts to the injured individual as he recovers,” Dan Coil, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told County 10. “The Service partners with states to manage grizzly bears in grizzly country and appreciates Wyoming Game and Fish responding to the incident.”

Wyoming grizzly bears, like grizzly bears in the rest of the continental U.S., fall under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Game and Fish Wishes Hunter a Speedy Recovery

“The safety of outdoor recreationists is always at the forefront of our minds,” said Wyoming Game and Fish’s Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor Dan Smith. “Our thoughts are with the individual who was injured. And we wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

As for the bears, their deaths come amid a bevy of threats, from habitat loss to climate change, that are threatening the wider grizzly population. Grizzly bears reproduce slowly. So the fate of the species hinges on reducing female mortality, making the death of the mother bear and her cubs all the more tragic, albeit perhaps unavoidable in this case.

Moreover, according to the Endangered Species Coalition, grizzly bears are an umbrella species. That means their Endangered Species Act protections also help other species that share their habitat.  

Grizzly bears are reportedly bouncing back in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. But in the Idaho panhandle, northwest Montana and the Cascades, they’re still in trouble. Human-grizzly bear encounters are the number one threat to the survival of the species.