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Grizzly euthanized after biting hunter at carcass site

November 14, 2011

By Martin Kidston, BillingsGazette.com

CODY, Wyo. — An old and underweight grizzly bear was euthanized over the weekend after biting a deer hunter on the leg along the South Fork of the Shoshone River.

Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Dennie Hammer said the grizzly bit the man on the thigh. The hunter, who surprised the bear, received four puncture wounds from the bite but wasn’t seriously hurt, Hammer said.

“He was hunting with a friend in a dense willow patch,” Hammer said. “He walked in on a bear that was lying there, and the bear bit him on the left thigh.”

Hammer said the attack occurred late last week during a full moon at around 7:30 a.m. Biologists searched for the bear over the weekend and found the animal underweight and in poor shape.

“That bear was in fairly poor body condition,” Hammer said. “It was an older bear. It had broken teeth. Its body fat was around 15 percent. The average for this time of year should be 31 percent.”

Hammer said that while the bear was acting normally, biologists opted to capture the animal and euthanize it because of its condition, age and proximity to populated areas. The bear’s exact age was not known.

“We just didn’t feel we should move it anywhere because he was old and in poor condition,” Hammer said. “The investigation into the incident showed that the bear was acting defensively — not predaciously. There was no reason to conduct a necropsy.”

Hammer said the encounter occurred in an area of dense willows near the confluence of the South Fork of the Shoshone River with Buffalo Bill Reservoir.

The area has become an unauthorized dumping ground for carcasses.

“One of the problems was, people are dumping deer carcasses in that general area,” Hammer said. “He was grabbing those carcasses and dragging them into the willows. People need to take their carcasses into the local landfill. It’s better than dumping them on the roadside.”

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