Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?

Idaho Elk Hunter Attacked by Bear Near Yellowstone Park

September 27, 2011

By Martin Leung, FieldAndStream.com

A 40-year-old man and his hunting partner were bowhunting elk near Yellowstone Park when they startled a bear that attacked them. One man suffered a broken arm and other non-life threatening injuries, unlike the Montana hunter, who was killed last week.

The bear charged at the hunter, who was nearer the animal than his partner.

The partner used a bear spray canister, which shoots an aerosol mixture of hot pepper, as the animal retreated.

Idaho conservation officers said early indications suggested the bear was a grizzly but they were awaiting confirmation from DNA evidence gathered from the scene.

Wildlife officials decided not to capture the animal, based on the description of the attack provided by the hunters, both from Island Park, and an investigation of the scene.

"It's very clear from the incident that the bear was surprised and ran away.

It did not intend to kill or consume the men," said Losinski, who is a member of a federal-state task force on grizzly bears.

Thousands of black bears roam Idaho but their out-sized, hump-shouldered grizzly cousins are fewer in number. There are about 600 grizzlies in the greater Yellowstone area, which spans parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Grizzly attacks on humans are rare in the Northern Rockies, where the vast majority of conflicts between people and bears involve damage to property — from trash cans to livestock — by the bruins.

Even so, the number of deadly grizzly encounters in the region so far in 2011 is higher than the average of one every two years, government figures show."

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