Elk hunter fights off grizzly bear attack in Island Park

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ISLAND PARK — An Idaho Falls archery hunter was hospitalized after an encounter with a grizzly bear Monday morning.

The elk hunter, who has not been identified, was in the Yale Creek area near Sawtell Peak in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest when he was attacked by a mother grizzly and three cubs.

Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Gregg Losinski said the incident was likely a chance encounter.

“This definitely sounds like a surprise encounter with a bear and her cubs,” Losinski said. “When hunters are out they are trying to be stealthy, and not doing the things that would normally prevent them from running into a bear.”

The hunter reportedly was carrying bear spray, but apparently couldn’t access it when the attack occurred. Fish and Game officials said the man was able to scare the bear off after he tried to shoot her several times with a .44 magnum revolver pistol at point-blank range.

The archer sustained injuries to his hand and wrist, but hiked out under his own power and was transported by ambulance to Madison County Hospital in Rexburg.

IDFG officers are investigating the area and trying to locate the bear and her cubs to determine their condition. IDFG has a special cadre of professionals called the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team that are trained and equipped to rapidly respond to such situations. Officials said this attack is different than the recent bear attack and fatality in Yellowstone National Park.

“We still have guys in the wood figuring out what went on,” Losinski said. “… But this isn’t on the same level (as the Yellowstone attack) since there was no fatality or body to consume.”

Stay with EastIdahoNews.com for further developments on this story.

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