Grizzly bear attack victim released

Jim Cole, who was mauled by a grizzly bear near Trout Creek in Yellowstone Park’s Hayden Valley, has been released from the hospital.

Bear attack victim released. By Gazette News Services

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  1. Eric Avatar

    Surviving more than one attack, or I should say defense,
    is remarkable. I bet pepper spray had something to do with it.

  2. SAP Avatar

    You might say pepper spray had something to do with it . . . but maybe a sense of overconfidence because he was carrying it contributed to his lack of caution, and then he got attacked so suddenly that he could not deploy the spray.

    The only ones who really know what happened are the bear and Jim Cole, and I bet the bear has a substantially clearer idea of what took place.

    But I would argue that pepper spray sometimes gives people too much confidence. That’s certainly not an argument against carrying it; it’s an argument to PLEASE make sure you continue to use your best tools (brain, eyes, ears, nose) effectively and constantly when you’re in bear country.

  3. Eric Avatar

    I’ve never carried it. But I think it’s probably not a bad idea. I’ve only hiked the Pacific Ceek Trail in the Teton Wilderness about 5 miles in. That’s the extent of my bear country hiking. Didn’t see anything except Clark’s Nutcrackers and grouse. This was in September. All I know about Grizzlies is they like to cache dead things by thowing some debris on top of it. And they have great noses.

  4. kim Avatar

    one of the stories his publicist/friend said is he never got it out ot use it,,

  5. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    statistics. A few years ago biologist Steve Herrero did a study on the success rate of bear pepper spray, and it showed that bear pepper spray is pretty effective when used–but what it didn’t show and can’t show is how often bear pepper spray had to be used because it fostered overconfidence that led people into situations where they needed to use their bear peppper spray. I wonder if people aren’t having more tense encounters because they go afield thinking, “hey, if I screw up and startle a nearby grizzly, I’ll just blast it with my bear pepper spray.” It’s worth noting that Chuck Neal, author of Grizzlies in the Mist, has spent a lot of time in Yellowstone and does not carry bear pepper spray because of the overconfidence factor. Ditto for Steve French with the Yellowstone Grizzly Foundation. Biologist Chuck Jonkel, who helped develop and test bear pepper spray back in the 80s. cautions that it’s better than nothing, but you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you need to use it. When it comes to bear pepper spray and firearms, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game biologist John Hechtel says that just because you’re armed with bear pepper spray or a firearm, don’t go places you wouldn’t go otherwise. Don’t do things you wouldn’t do otherwise.

    You want to avoid trouble with bears, not use bear pepper spray or firearms as a last resort.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    People should note that when you use pepper spray, even when used effectively, meaning the bear is quickly deterred, you will likely get a nose full yourself.

    When the bear runs away after getting a good blast of spray, the direction it takes might be over the top of you!

  7. Eric Avatar

    Okay, so what is the best thing to do if you unintentionally surprise a bear and it’s within striking distance? I was worried about this and I really don’t have a strategy in case it happens. I would probably stand there looking at it terrified and try to start some stupid thing like growling and waving my arms or something. Thanks so much for your information thus far.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    If the bear is standing up, looking at you, that’s good. It is determining what you are and if you are a threat.

    If it is on all fours and poping its jaws, that’s bad.

    If it runs directly toward you, it is a charge, or usually a bluff charge, and it will swerve off at the last instance. People have been bluff charged repeatedly by a grizzly and not been attacked. However, if you have pepper spray, spray directly in front of where it will be in a second. DON’T AIM TOO HIGH.

    If the bear is holding its ground, don’t look it in the eyes or shout. Move slowly off to the side and continue that way. You might speak to the bear in low, soft tones. You are neither threatening the bear nor fleeing. Never run! That’s because prey run.

    I never had a direct confrontation with a grizzly, but I have had close encounters 4 times. I saw the bear first (however, I’ll bet there were plenty where the bear saw me and moved off, and I never saw it).

    When it is obvious grizzly turf (due to habitat, tracks, or fresh scat) and you can’t see 100 meters, yell “HEY BEAR!” or some such. Forget those backpacker bells.

    It is especially dangerous if a grizzly is near and the sound of rushing water is strong. Of course, if the wind carries your scent, it will be pretty safe as you move in that direction.

    Those have been the rules I’ve had in my mind in hundreds of days in grizzly country, usually alone.

    Walking into the wind, especially a stiff one, is dangerous because it blocks your scent, muffles your noise, and will make pepper spray blow back at you.

  9. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    Let me share my recent experience. My guidelines how to behave are not so much from a wealth of experience (it was only my second bear encounter and one of this was with a brown bear in Ukraine, which is a bit different to meeting a griz in Yellowstone) but more from advise my friend Kevin Sanders offered. When the bear turned towards us we instinctly thought “OK, Its going to be a bluff charge!” We continued our walk in slow pace, mumbling excuses and watched him through the corners of our eyes. Obviously this behaviour satisfied him cause he broke off and ran away. One thing we learned however was: Do not press on a hike when you know, you left your spray in the cabin! The spray should not give you a false impression of safety. The spray should be considered only an addition to your precautions.

  10. Bill Avatar

    I have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone hiking off trail alone in Hayden Valley. Many bear encounters, but never close enough to use bear spray. I would add one more thing to the above advise given. If you are in areas you can not see well as brinks of hills or woods carry the bear spray in your hand ready to use or a front pocket on your shirt.

  11. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    if you travel in bear country all the time it is not a bad idea to get some pepper spray and use it to practice with, share the cost with other hiking buddies and each take a turn. Also, in Alaska when we go through tricky stuff taking two rock and clacking them together sounds like sticks breaking . . or break sticks. We found this much more effective than yelling . . a sharp hand clap does the trick too. Big bears who move through brush use stick cracking as a warning to each other. . humans tend to ignore the noise. Pepper spray was always with us, but we never had to use it. If a bear is ignoring you or you think it doesn’t see you that is a great sign so don’t yell at it or be rude because the bear is being polite . . move away, sideways, preferably and get out of sight. If it stands up it is trying to confirm what you are, they don’t attack from that position. . my personal experience is that it takes a lot of being rude to make a bear charge, but then the bears I was with were full. . hungry bears are not as cool. I like the advice of having the spray in your hands in thick brush, but most people shoot it too soon. I feel for Jim Cole, it is sort of like when you navigate rivers around rocks daily you have much more chance of hitting them, when you have more time in the backcountry you have more chance of accidentally being rude to a bear. . if we could speak their body language fluently it might help. I will wait for the full story before I form an opinion on this incident. Linda

  12. Vicki Avatar

    I have hiked in Yellowstone, Hayden and Lamar. I have had several bear encounters. I can say that I have had more encounters right off the road, not in the bush. I once climbed a ways up a tree to figure out the easiest route to take….and fell out of the tree, hiting every branch on the way down and fell about 2 yards in front of a black bear H was eating his way through the forest, and cared less about me. I make a ton of noise, so I don’t think he was concerned one way or the other about what or who was making it.
    At any rae, I grew up hearing “There is no use in having a gun in your house for defense unless you are able to handle it, willing and calm enough to use, it and tough enough to fight off what ever isn’t killed by it.” I think the same applies to bear spray. If you haven’t used it, you should learn how-or how do expect to use it when charged, and you are panicking? If you carry it, are you likely to panick if charged? In that case it wouldn’t be of much help, and you’ve wasted time trying to figure out the spray-when you should have been telling yourself not to freak-out and how to assess and react to the situation. If you use it and it doesn’t completely deter an attack, will you have effected your own vision or breath too much to fend off, flee, or avert a bear? Will you know what to do next? The absolute best way to defend against any attack is to prevent it! Hike with knowledge. If you are taking spray, know how to and be willing to use it. If you are still wary, don’t venture too far from your car. You are still more likely to be struck twice by lightning than be attacked by a bear.
    I can also tell you that bear spray is “contents under pressure”. My husband and son actually left some in the window of our vehicle. It got warm, and without them realizing it, leaked into the defroster. They got a dose of their own medicine.. burned like fire and then turned their lips numb and left rashes on their bellies, arms, and faces. Not to mention their eyes were red for weeks. I guess now they know what the bear would feel like. On the bright side, it is non-lethal…ha.

  13. LilyRose Avatar

    I tell you what, if you’ve had your scalp bit into once by a bear and you’re still out there taking pictures of grizzlies, well, hats off to ya! You’re either brave, or you’ve rattled a few loose up there…or both. A bear with a cub is not a place to play, that’s for sure! At any rate, hope he heals up alright.

  14. Eric Avatar

    Thanks for all the good advice! Especially the tips on bear behavioral signs and how to use pepper spray if necessary, which I hope never happens.

  15. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Just in: A man was mauled by a female Grizz with three cubs feeding on an elk carcass near Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming.

  16. Vicki Avatar

    any details? did he suprise her? did he get close? most imporatntly…IS HE OKAY? have the said what they will do about the bear?

  17. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Appears he surprised her. He is okay with some wounds. Officials say they have no plans to capture, relocate or otherwise harm bear. So far.

  18. Todd E Avatar
    Todd E

    responding to Jim Cole….I know him and his passion….not sure if there is anyone in the world that continually puts himself at risk and right in the heart of griz country more than Jim does. For anyone that does not know, google him and you will find the wonderful books he does with beautiful photography. When he does his seminars who will be the first one to tell you to not fear Grizzly bears and for that reason has never once mentioned his first attack in Glacier.
    Jim’s got big cahuna’s and my hats off to him!

  19. Brent Avatar

    Getting attacked twice is a sign of arrogance. I was in Yellowstone that week, saw the grizzly sow and cub in Hayden – and after a brief hike I decided the situation was too dangerous. There was no cover for the bear to move to, she and the cub were moving a lot, and the rolling hills made it a dangerous approach. And I don’t think he surprised the sow at all. I think he followed them, shooting pictures, not allowing them to move away – and finally she had just had it. That is arrogance and I don’t care how many books or images he has had published or whether he mentions the first attack in Glacier during seminars.

  20. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I didn’t know the particular bear had been identified.

  21. Sarge Avatar

    Did you know that a number ot bear guides on Kodiak Island donn’t carry pepper spray anymore or give it to their clients. They used a compressed air horn. I have been told that not only do you not have to be that close to a bear to have a chance of the spray working the sound of the horn blast will stop a bear dead in its tracks to figure out “what was that noise”

  22. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    clueless dolts harassing bears?

    Jim Cole’s #1 hiking partner was Tim Rubbert, author of Hiking With Grizzlies: Lessons Learned. Cole and Rubbert seem like slow learners who couldn’t care less about grizzly bears. P. 5 “Some people have and will continue to criticize me for intruding into the bear’s domain.” P.10, “To my amazement, the sound came from a grizzly with two cub-of the year, only 30 feet away.” p.11 “To my complete astonishment, the sound came from a rather large grizzly. It was about 40 feet in front of me . . .” p.25 “The grizzly was about 40 yards in front of me . . .” p.27 “I was totally surprised to see a grizzly bear walking parallel to me about 40 feet away . . .” p.32 “As I was directing my attention towards my left, Joesph noticed a grizzly watching me about 40 yards to my right.”

    Etc. How does a “bear expert” who’s paying attention and making noise have so many sudden encounters at close range with grizzlies? And heck, since we’re practically shaking hands, would you mind posing for a photograhp for Lives of Grizzlies/Hiking with Grizzlies? It’s for a good cause: I’m trying to educate people about avoiding sudden encounters at close range with grizzlies.

    p.94 “The big male heard the click of the camera shutter, lay down, and began looking around for the sound . . . Once he determined there were people nearby, he ran away–fast.”

    p.95 “I whispered to Jim, ‘Grizzly!’ The bear looked up and didn’t hesitate. He fled”

    With bear conservationist/friends like Cole and Rubbert, grizzly bears don’t need enemies.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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