A classic kind of grizzly/hunter interaction near Island Park, Idaho-

About a week ago, a lucky (or unlucky?) hunter survived a bite from a grizzly that had taken the hunter’s elk. A Michigan archery hunter and his friend who had hunted the area numerous times before wounded a bull elk about 15 miles west of Yellowstone Park near Sheridan Creek. The elk did not go down on the spot, and the two were following the blood trail when a charging grizzly came at them and  bit one hunter on the shoulder.  The bear had apparently claimed the elk (bad luck for the hunter) and was defending it. The two were not carrying weapons or pepper spray (unlikely).  The bear did not continue the attack (lucky), but ran back to the elk, apparently to make sure no other bear or whatever claimed it.  Later. It isn’t really clear why the bear attacked because the elk was never found, but defense of the elk carcass is a reasonable supposition.

Seeking medical attention, the hunters hiked out of the area.  That was four miles. They drove to Ashton, Idaho about 25 miles to the south for treatment. Fortunately the shoulder wounds were said to have been minor (lucky).

Idaho Fish and Game regards the incident as normal grizzly bear behavior. Hunters should carry pepper spray when approaching a carcass.  They do attract grizzly bears and something like this happens almost every year though very often human or bear ends up dead.

Versions of the story are in most of the Eastern Idaho newspapers. For more details we link to the Island Park News, the closest newspaper to where it happened. Bear attacks hunter west of Shotgun. Island Park News.

– – – – –


The Idaho State Journal (Pocatello) has a detailed story from the hunter who was bitten (on the bicep, not the shoulder). They never did find the elk. Although Idaho Fish and Game treated the incident like a learning lesson on don’t track without pepper spray, the hunter said bear came out of the trees and bit him in only a second and then very quickly went back into the trees. Hunter recalls run-in with grizzly bear in Idaho. Associated Press. Idaho State Journal.



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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

70 Responses to Grizzly bear claims elk carcass and then bites hunter who tries to retrieve it

  1. SAP says:

    same day, about 40 miles north in the Madison Range:


    It’s a lean year. We’ve got black bears scrounging the valley floor for anything they can find. Hunters need to be extremely careful, especially if they choose to camo up and make elk sounds. I’d have that bear spray right in my hand or in my chest holster, with my back to a tree, if I was trying to convince a woodland audience that I was an elk.

  2. Mike says:

    It’s the grizzlie’s land.

    Time to leave them alone during the fall.

    • jon says:

      Situations like these are the reason why electronic calls need to be outlawed. They attract predators such as wolves and bears.

      • Savebears says:


        Where in the heck does it say they were using an electronic calls? I can call elk with no aid of any call, in Montana, it is illegal to use electronic calls for big game animals. It is more likely the bear was attracted by odor and not noise

        • jon says:

          Excuse me sb, they were cow calling.

          • Savebears says:

            I will excuse you Jon, but you really need to read a bit more closely before you accuse people of wrong doing, they were participating in a legal hunt, when you hunt in this area, it is always a chance this will happen.

            I am always on the watch for bears, especially grizz when I am out hunting, it comes with the territory.

            • Mike says:

              Who cares if it was legal?

              Every year we read about this same stupid crap over and over and over, and nothing ever changes.

              I can’t wait to read all the dead bear/hunter gets attacked stories(not). I feel like I’m tuning into an episode of the Maury Povich show every fall, with the participants wagging fingers in each others faces.

              Crazy prediction time:

              A white, male hunter over 40 years old will shoot a grizzly bear while hunting elk this fall. The hunter will not have bear spray.

              Repeat, rinse, repeat.

            • Savebears says:


              I don’t care if your hunting or not at this time of year, when you are in the woods, you are an intrution when it concerns bears bulking up for winter.

              I do care if it is legal or not, these hunters did nothing wrong, they were simply using their resources as you will when you visit this area. What makes you so freaking high and mighty?

            • Mike says:

              SB –

              I never said these specific hunters did anything wrong.

              The fact is, wildlife doesn’t die easy as much as hunters want to portray it as such.

              Hunting in grizz territory is just bad news in general.

            • Savebears says:

              Mike, no it is not, humans have been doing it for thousands of years!

          • elk275 says:


            I can cow elk call with a blade of grass or a rubber band between the thumbs. My favorite call is a moose call with a 2 pound coffee can and a wet shoe lace.


            Fall will be here in 2 days and I guess you should cancell your North Rocky Mountain trip coming up. We won’t miss you and the animals will not miss you.

            • Mike says:

              ++I can cow elk call with a blade of grass or a rubber band between the thumbs. My favorite call is a moose call with a 2 pound coffee can and a wet shoe lace. ++

              I bet that took about two days to master.

              Aim high, bro.

            • elk275 says:

              No, I aim 2/3 of the way down in back of the front shoulder. I will aim 8 inches high at 300 hundred yards, 18 inches high at 400 yards and at 500 yards I will try to get closer.

      • Savebears says:

        As hunting is legal Mike, and you feel it is time to stay out of the woods during the fall, does that mean you will not be visiting?

        • Mike says:

          I’ll be visiting. But I also won’t be sitting in camo, smelling like an ungulate, and making ungulate noises, either.

          You act like these encounters are some random crazy accident, lol.

          The grizzly it appears got the elk, because it seems the animals never die very easily, another good reason to get rid of hunting.

          • Savebears says:

            I won’t be sitting camo’d and smelling like a deer or elk either, you will never get rid of hunting Mike, so get over it, you can get it banned with your misinformed opinion, but you will never get rid of it. You get tired of reading legal hunters talking, and I get damn tired of the anti hunting BS. Who wins, is your beliefs more important than mine?

            • Mike says:

              I think the one who supports the activity that is the least harmful deserves the benefit of the doubt.

            • Savebears says:

              Mike, with your actions on this system, you don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, you are a died in the wool anti hunter, and take every single opportunity to let everybody know, I am a died in the wool hunter and will do the same.

    • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

      No Mike – it is not “the grizzlies land”. It is the land of our society. Grizzlies are a part of that landscape. Grizzlies are one of many resource management considerations that society, through our system of government and social institutions that we are responsible for managing. Hunting is one of many social institutions that society will balance, with the presence of grizzlies, for our benefit.

      • Mike says:

        Mark –

        The grizzly is the endangered species here. Yet your message appears to regard them as mere cattle.

        • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          Mike – grizzlies remain protected under the ESA because of the value Society places on the species as a natural resource. Your intent to trivialize the concept of wildlife as a human resource – i.e having value to society/people – by the mis-application of the cattle analogy is understood. Of course, wildlife are a natural resource with value and utility for humans. There would be no conservation laws, we would not CARE – if wildlife were not valuable to human society. The prospects for abundant wildlife, intact ecosystems in our future will be zero – if we do not demonstrate value of wildlife for human society – by a variety of sustainable, socially acceptable beneficial uses.

          • Mike says:

            This is a scary post, Mark. Lots of fundamentalist gloom in that paragraph..

            In many cases, the best “value” is to leave animals alone. Grizzly bears serve as a barometer for ecosystem health…an ecosystem we also inhabit.

            • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Mike –
              “scary post”, “fundamentalist gloom”?? Please explain.

              Yes, grizzlies are one component of the ecosystem we both inhabit. Which is why your statement:
              “it’s the grizzlies land” is either a naive misunderstanding of how our society has and will continue to prioritize choices for management of our ecosysem resources, or a statement of your personal philosphical priorities. Either is a recipe for failure to build the necessary public support for meaningful conservation of grizzlies and other wildlife resources in the face of increasing difficult choices by the average American. The implied suggestion that people should “leave them alone in the fall” – i.e. fewer human beneficial uses of our shared ecoystem (elk hunting in this example)is un-necessary to ensure sustained conservation of grizzly bears and in-fact counter to the long-term desired objective of public support for sustained grizzly bear populations.

            • Mike says:


              The “fundamentalist” comment was made because your quote sounded awfully similar to Genesis 1:26.

              I guarantee you that the public would support booting people who dress in camo, smell like ungulates, and who make ungulate calls during grizzly bear hyperphagia periods. The problem is they have no idea this even goes on.

            • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Mike –
              “I guarantee you that the public would support booting people who dress in camo, smell like ungulates, and who make ungulate calls during grizzly bear hyperphagia periods. The problem is they have no idea this even goes on.”

              Mike, again your comments suggest you are either naive or deliberately mis-characterizing this issue. Of course the NRMR public understands that elk hunters use elk calls, some employ scents and camoflage clothing. As do wildlife managers (federal and state) who also understand that those practices have no relevant bearing on the sustainability of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Grizzlies are doing very well in this geographic area. So well that inevitable conflicts are occuring with increasing frequency outside of the core recovery area, in those geographic areas where human activies are frequent and human-grizzly encounters are a certainty. That is the crux of this discussion. Is it realistic, is it in the best interests of grizzly bear conservation to suggest/expect/demand that human society will choose to withdraw from or severely reduce highly valued human activites in these areas of grizzly population expansion? No, it is not. That is not only unrealistic, it is delusional and it is certain to erode, not build public suport for sustainable grizzly bear conservation objectives.

            • Mike says:

              Mark, again you manage to say very little with many words.

              ++ Is it realistic, is it in the best interests of grizzly bear conservation to suggest/expect/demand that human society will choose to withdraw from or severely reduce highly valued human activites in these areas of grizzly population expansion?.++

              One could make the case that sitting in the woods, smelling like an ungulate, making calls like an ungulate, and killing grizzly bears by “accident” (again when a hunter who does this encounters a grizzly, I wouldn’t call it an accident, but rather deliberate behavior that increases the chances of such an encounter) impedes their ability to repopulate great grizzly habitat in other areas.

              See this case:


              Where a hunter shot a grizzly bear in the Bitterroots. It is very possible that this bear could have helped create a new population in the Bitterroot/Frank Church ecosystem. But we’ll never know, will we?

              No one is asking for society to “withdraw” from these areas (although I don’t blame you for framing this in such dramatic light), but rather to consider foolish behavior during grizzly hyperphagia.

              And sitting in the bushes, smelling like an elk, dressed in camo, and making calls like an elk during hyperphagai is indeed foolish behavior.

            • jon says:

              Public support Mark? Mark, In Idaho, there is a 10 month long hunting season on wolves and the public support from the hunters and ranchers for wolves is not there. Everywhere there are wolves in the US, you constantly have two particular groups are people that are against them and want to kill them, ranchers and hunters. Hunters/ranchers are ANTI-WOLF. To say that you have to kill something in order to get public support for it is insane. This is backwards thinking.

            • jon says:

              A good article for you to read Mark.


              “Let’s kill every wolf in Montana.

              Sounds like a popular idea these days among hunters.

              While we’re at it, let’s kill every grizzly bear, every black bear and every mountain lion. Throw in golden eagles, bald eagles, rattlesnakes and coyotes.

              We’d be left with a hunter’s paradise – a state teeming with game animals and hunting opportunity, right?

              That’s the sentiment I heard recently at a meeting on the hunting season setting proposals in Butte, where an oft-angry group of sportsmen called for large-scale killing of predators to increase the number of deer, elk and other game species. The suggestions ranged from having government trappers shoot wolves from helicopters to creating a season on eagles so they don’t kill mountain goats.”

    • Rancher Bob says:

      That mean your staying home and out of the woods.

    • RobertR says:

      Mike get it right it’s the publics land and the animals habitat period!!!!

    • jon says:

      This is survival of the fittest. Natural predator vs. human being with a gun.. The grizzly won this time as he got the elk.

      • Savebears says:

        They were Bowhunting Jon, gun season is not open, you really have a difficult time with comprehending what is going on don’t you?

  3. Rita K. Sharpe says:

    At times,I don’t know if we are talking about wildlife news or what is happpening out there in the wild places or are we just taking jabs at each other.Maybe I should go get a cold drink,find something to munch on and just sit back and enjoy the show. Time to change the channel.

    • Savebears says:

      Sounds like a great idea Rita, of course when you discuss wildlife issues, with the various opinions that float around, why would you expect any less than what goes on? This is a time honored tradition when you have so many with opposing views.

    • elk275 says:

      Rita when Mike and Jon get going it is time to put your PJ’S on pop some popcorn and enjoy.

  4. Ralph Maughan says:


    I updated the story a bit.

    It doesn’t look like these two men could have really done anything different than they did (according to their story).

  5. Savebears says:

    What I find amazing, is the bear didn’t die, the hunters didn’t die and the game dept is taking no action as the bear was acting normal and Mike is still bitching!

    • Mike says:

      Because the story will only repeat itself over and over, with varying results.

      This is just the start. It’s a bad re-run, yet no one really has the courage to ask “why”.

      • Savebears says:

        Why? Because people live, hunt and recreate in the same country as the Grizzly bears do, that is why Mike, should be cut all access of to the areas of the countries that contain grizz?

        • Mike says:

          Replace “access” with “sitting in the woods, smelling like ungulates, and making ungulate calls”.

          • Savebears says:

            Mike, at this time of the year, you don’t have to smell like an ungulate to have a bear smack ya, if you visit so much you should know that, farting in the middle of the night in your tent, could get your ass bit!

            • Mike says:

              True, there are certain risks this time of year.

              But dressing in camo, smelling like an ungulate, making ungulate calls, and then hovering about wounded animals takes everything to an entirely new level.

            • jon says:

              sb, who’s leading the polls Bullock or Rick Hill?

            • elk275 says:

              Bullock and Tester are going to win. The polls are tight. My general feeling from talking with people, and reading the papers that both of them are slightly ahead.

            • jon says:

              thanks elk for the info. Are you a big fan of Denny Rehberg?

            • Savebears says:


              What the hell does your question have to do with what we are talking about? Why don’t you worry about the political race in your state and stay on subject with the theme of the thread?

            • Savebears says:

              To add, it is rude, to ask who someone else is going to vote for, it is none of your business, we have gone through this before, my wife of 25 years does not ask who I vote for and I don’t ask who she votes for. The right to vote is sacred in this country and you continue to try and violate that!

            • Savebears says:

              Ya Mike and women get raped because they wear mini skirts and go bra less, you are so ignorant I can’t even laugh at you any longer!

            • elk275 says:


              I when to high school with Dennis he was a freshman and I was a senior. I do not know him and he does not know me but he would recognize my name.

              This has nothing to do with grizzlies and hunters. Four of five years ago I was sitting in the Holiday Inn eating the Friday fish buffet and a young lady invited me to sit with her as she was waiting for her grandfather. She was pleasant, a good conversationalist, interesting and within a few minutes I realized that she was Dennis’s daughter. Lunch was most delightful and soon over. Her grandfather and my father are friends from the 1940’s.

            • jon says:

              sb, I asked who’s leading the polls and no, it isn’t rude to ask someone who are they voting for. Atleast I don’t think so.

            • Savebears says:


              Those of us that have fought for those rights do happen to feel it is rude to ask another person who they are going to vote for. I have been married to my wife for over 25 years and she does not ask me who I vote for and I don’t ask here who she votes for. Voting is a private matter, which is why the voting booths provide curtains, so no one can see how your voting!

            • Mike says:

              ++Those of us that have fought for those rights do happen to feel it is rude to ask another person who they are going to vote for. I have been married to my wife for over 25 years and she does not ask me who I vote for and I don’t ask here who she votes for. ++

              I’m glad you haven’t invited me over for dinner!

              Those conversations about the weather and how the potatoes were cooked would just be too stimulating.

          • ma'iingan says:

            “Replace “access” with “sitting in the woods, smelling like ungulates, and making ungulate calls”.”

            Wake up, MIKE. None of the 2011 fatalities had anything to do with camo, scent lure, elk calls, bows, or firearms.

            And you were all over this forum pontificating about how stupid the victims were.

  6. Nancy says:

    A somewhat related article, the last couple of paragraphs put it into perspective 🙂


  7. HAL 9000 says:

    Never try to argue with a grizzly over a carcass.

    Always carry bear spray.

  8. Ralph Maughan says:

    September has been a brutal month for grizzly bears. Ten have been killed so far. There are 35 total for the year, and six of the ten in September have been management removals in Wyoming.

    The two incidents in Idaho (neither listed as a mortality) might led us to conclude they are hunt incidents like Idaho, but no, they were not.

    Here is the entire 2012 data base. Please compare to 2011, 2010, and 2009.

    2010 was the worst year with 50 dead grizzly bears.


September 2012


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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