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Officials: Grizzly bit hunter in defense of cubs and food

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The following news release was issued by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Tuesday evening. Click here to read our original story.

ISLAND PARK — On the morning of Monday, August 31 an archery hunter on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in the vicinity of Yale Creek and north of Yale reported that he had been attacked by a grizzly bear with three cubs. The archer sustained injuries to his hand and wrist, but hiked out under his own power and was transported by ambulance to Madison Memorial Hospital.

The hunter reported that he was carrying bear spray and a .44 caliber revolver. The hunter first saw the bears when they were approximately 40 feet away from him. The attack happened very quickly.

The bear bit the hunter’s left hand so he could not access his bear spray. The hunter reported that he used his right hand to shoot at the bear five times from point blank range.

In the case of such incidents involving attacks on humans by wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has a special cadre of professionals called the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) who are trained and equipped to rapidly respond to such situations.

Seven WHART personnel traveled to the area of the incident to investigate and determine the condition of the bear. WHART personnel were able to locate the exact site of the attack because the hunter had marked the location on his GPS.

An extensive search of the area by the team failed to locate any evidence that the bear involved in the attack had been killed or wounded.

WHART personnel also found at the scene a partially covered deer that had been cached by a bear. It appeared the sow and cubs had been at the scene for some time. It is likely the adult bear was defending her young and the deer food source. The terrain, vegetation, and creek sounds were contributing factors to the incident because they prevented the hunter and bears from seeing and hearing each other.

IDFG will continue to monitor the area for any sign of the sow and three cubs involved in the incident. The hunter, a 55-year-old man from Idaho Falls, was released from the hospital on August 31, 2015.

Hunters are advised always to carry bear spray and to avoid hunting alone when possible. All forest visitors who smell or encounter a dead animal should be aware that a bear may be in the vicinity and take appropriate precautions.

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