Grizzly bear and black bear attacks-

Last week there were two bear attacks in Idaho. One was in the Island Park area near landmark Sawtelle Peak (10 miles west of Yellowstone Park). The other was near the western Idaho town of McCall.

Idaho Fish and Game personnel trapped and then killed a male black bear in the McCall area Wednesday, Sept. 2. It was believed to have bitten a firefighter the previous night. He was sleeping on the ground in his bivvy sack. The firefighter’s injuries were only described as “minor” when treated at the hospital. He went back to work the next day.

The bear was trapped a half mile from the fire camp. DNA tests are being done to make sure the right bear was killed.

More serious injuries were delivered to an Idaho archery hunter, Mike Adams of Idaho Falls, on Monday morning. He ran into a sow with three cubs while pursuing elk on the flats below Sawtelle Peak.

The bear chewed on his left hand and arm (soft tissue injuries only) but the hunter managed to grab his .44 magnum pistol with his right hand,  and, he said, shoot the bear at very close range.  Later, however, a 6-hour on-the-ground investigation by a team found no blood or sign of injury to the bear. The bears had fled, but the investigators found a deer covered with dirt, likely the bears’ cache which was being defended.

The left-handed Adams also had pepper spray, but was unable to reach it during the attack.

Hunters have been injured in the Island Park area in years past when they encountered grizzly bears.  We reported a very similar incident near Sheridan Creek in 2012.  See, “Grizzly bear claims elk carcass and then bites hunter who tries to retrieve it.

The number of grizzly bears in Island Park (west of Yellowstone on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest) has increased markedly since the grizzly went on the threatened species list over 30 years ago. Three cubs is a sign of a grizzly that got good nutrition.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

10 Responses to Recent Idaho bear bites

  1. avatar Nancy says:

    Trip down memory lane with the comments re: this link in the article 🙂

    “Grizzly bear claims elk carcass and then bites hunter who tries to retrieve it.”

  2. avatar Leslie says:

    This is going to be a very bad year for bears as the white bark/limber pine crop is nil, and berry crop failed. Just talked with the SNF Bear Biologist and there have been more bear sightings than ever because bears are hungry. Hunting season is beginning and I fear the worst as to conflicts.

  3. avatar Leslie says:

    Bears that get food rewards might become problem bears as we all know. If you want to read the most incredulous story that I just found out about today, and happened on an incursion I had last Sunday, here it is https://thehumanfootprint.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/an-incredible-bear-story-addendum-to-previous-post/

    This is just the kind of extreme stupidity that our bears are facing.

    • avatar SAP says:

      Wow! A lot of lessons there.

      The case also illustrates one of the inherent problems with motorized access — especially for anything bigger than a 2-wheeled motorbike: they were able to fairly easily drag all of their crap – coolers, firearms — up there to that remote location. If they had bicycled, walked, or ridden a horse, it’s unlikely they would have brought all that with them.

      Twenty people on foot probably wouldn’t have had near the same impact as these two inconsiderate, poorly prepared people and their car-full of stuff.

  4. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Interesting read:

    Human Ego and the Grizzly Bear: Is the West Big Enough?

    In 1815 naturalist George Ord, a man who had never encountered a grizzly outside of Lewis and Clark’s reports, gave the species its “scientific” name: Ursus horribilis—a fateful PR decision with 200 years of consequences. While the grizzly was later recognized as a subspecies of the brown bear, Ursus arctos, the name stuck, and even today the bear is officially classified as U. arctos horribilis.

    Meanwhile, Homo sapiens sapiens put “wise” in its own name twice.

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