Grizzly Bites Two BLM Workers Near Yellowstone; Two Hikers Injured in Separate Park Incident

Saturday, August 17 2013 14:12   Western Travel Buzz
Two Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contract workers were bitten by a grizzly bear Aug. 15, 2013 west of Idaho's Island Park Reservoir, about 25 miles from Yellowstone National Park.

In a separate incident, two persons were treated for injuries after a backcountry bear encounter Thursday morning, Aug. 15, 2013, in Yellowstone National Park.

beargrizzlyAll four members of the Yellowstone group were able to hike out to the trailhead under their own power. One person was treated at the scene, while the second injured hiker was transported by ambulance to an area hospital with bite and claw wounds.

In the first reported incident, the grizzly attack was halted when one of the BLM workers sprayed the bear with pepper spray, with the grizzly then fleeing the scene of the attack.

The incident happened at approximately noon after the two workers apparently startled the bear. According to a BLM spokesperson, the grizzly then charged the two men, biting the first on the thigh and backside, then biting the second on the hands. Both men were knocked down by the bear. The second man was able to deploy his bear spray.

The men, who were not identified, then were able to walk out on their own and drove their vehicle to a rendezvous with an ambulance from Fremont County, Idaho. After having their injuries examined by the EMTs, the men was allowed to continue driving on their own to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg where they were examined and treated.

In the second incident, Yellowstone National Park rangers said the group of four visitors was a few miles down the Cygnet Lakes Trail southwest of Canyon Village when they saw an approaching grizzly bear cub-of-the-year at about 11:30 a.m. A sow grizzly then appeared at very close range and charged the group.

Two of the hikers immediately discharged their canisters of bear spray and the sow and cub left the area after an encounter which lasted about a minute. All four hikers asked that their identities not be released.

Yellowstone bear biologists say the sow's behavior is consistent with purely defensive actions taken after a surprise encounter with people. This was the first report of any bear-caused human injuries in Yellowstone this year, a spokesperson said. The incident remains under investigation.

Yellowstone regulations require visitors to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use binoculars, a telescope or telephoto lens to get a closer look.

These hikers were heeding the park's advice to hike in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, keep an eye out for bears and carry bear spray, a park spokesperson said. Bear spray has proven to be a good last line of defense, if kept handy and used according to directions when a bear is approaching within 30 to 60 feet.

There had been no recent reports of grizzly bear activity in the area. As a precaution the Cygnet Lakes Trail and the surrounding area have been temporarily closed. In addition, the park has closed the nearby Mary Mountain area to any off trail travel.

In the case of the attack on the BLM workers, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) activated their Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) to handle the situation.

A biologist was on site at the hospital to attempt and collect samples that were sent to a laboratory to hopefully isolate DNA belonging to the bear. All grizzly bears handled in trapping efforts have samples collected to create a DNA directory of bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, an IDFG spokesperson said.

The incident occurred about 10 air miles north of the location of an earlier incident involving a grizzly bear and wildlife technician that took place on July 29, 2013.

The identity of that grizzly bear has not yet been confirmed, but samples are being processed in hopes of finding DNA. Because grizzly bears are constantly on the move throughout the Yellowstone Ecosystem it is important to have DNA confirmation regarding the identity of the specific bears involved in incidents, the spokesperson said.

The bear involved in the previous incident was reported to be wearing a radio collar, but no collar was observed on the bear involved in the latest incident.

At the present time the BLM has not announced any area closures, but anyone venturing out is encouraged to carry bear spray and make noise as they move through the brush. Grizzly bears cover large amounts of territory in search of food, especially during late summer when they are beginning to work at building up fat reserves in preparation for hibernation.

Island Park Reservoir is located in some of Idaho's most beautiful and unique country. This 7,000 acre reservoir is on U.S. Highway 20, about 30 miles north of Ashton, and only 25 miles west of Yellowstone National Park.

Idaho still classifies grizzly bears as a threatened species, making it illegal to take or possess grizzly bears except under certain circumstances, including scientific research, propagation, to stop damage to property and water rights and other specific circumstances outlined in state law. There are no hunting seasons for grizzly bears in Idaho.


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