Jackson Hole, WY News

The grizzly bears suspected of fatally mauling outfitter Mark Uptain were trapped and killed early Sunday near the elk carcass that caused conflict on Terrace Mountain.

“We killed two grizzly bears up there a little bit ago, and we have every reason to believe they are the offending bears,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Jackson Regional Supervisor Brad Hovinga said around 10:45 a.m. Sunday. “They fit the description.”

Forensic tests will provide certainty that the killer grizzlies are now dead, he said.

The successful overnight capture was unexpected.

Before boarding a helicopter hours before, Game and Fish carnivore supervisor Dan Thompson remarked that it was a “low probability” that the bears would have remained in the area because of the bustling activity the day before. Twenty searchers had swept through the broken-timbered slopes of the Teton Wilderness peak that day before coming upon Uptain’s remains around 1:15 p.m. Saturday.

After Uptain’s body was retrieved, Teton County Coroner Brent Blue performed an autopsy, concluding Sunday that head and chest trauma were the cause of death.

Pending completion of an investigation, wildlife managers are not releasing all the details about what they believe occurred when Uptain and his bow-hunting client, Corey Chubon, were aggressively attacked by the pair of bruins Friday afternoon.

Hovinga surmised that the bears involved were a sow and its grown cub.

“The behavior exhibited by these bears is abnormal behavior for a family group,” he said. “It’s not typically how we would see family groups behave.”

Chubon, who was airlifted out of the Teton Wildness with leg, chest and arm injuries, reported to investigators that of the two grizzlies involved, only one was the aggressor. The Florida resident, who flew back home Saturday, told authorities that he was unable to fire a shot from a handgun he retrieved during the attack, but he threw the firearm to Uptain before departing the scene.

Late Saturday, Hovinga declined to discuss evidence collected at the scene, but he did say that bear-deterrent pepper spray was among the things the guide and client possessed. He said he “didn’t know” if the handgun was with Uptain’s remains. The gun was not recovered immediately around where the attack took place, at the site of an elk Chubon had struck with an arrow Thursday. The guide and client did not locate and start to retrieve the elk until early the next afternoon.

The elk carcass was “undisturbed” when it was located by Uptain and Chubon, which suggests that the bear was not necessarily food guarding — a common behavior that often leads to conflicts with humans, especially hunters.

What’s uncommon is for hunter-grizzly conflicts to turn fatal for the people.

Uptain, a father of five and small-business owner, was guiding for Martin Outfitters.

In a recent interview with the Jackson Hole News&Guide about his business, Blue Sky Services and Restoration, he said he spent his free time with his wife, Sarah, and their kids, serving on the board of elders at First Baptist Church, riding horses, hunting, fishing, biking and playing chess.

Shortly after Uptain’s death was confirmed, Rauli Perry, a family friend, created a GoFundMe page in his name. Launched Saturday evening, as of Sunday afternoon it had raised nearly $25,000 of its $50,000 goal.

“Even more than the outdoors Mark loved his beautiful wife Sarah and their five amazing kids,” wrote Perry, who has been friends with Sarah Uptain since they were in second grade. “Please give what you can or share to help this family in their time of need. I know I can’t take away the pain, but if we can help support Sarah to be able to focus on the kids and not worry about finances.”

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7071, env@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGenviro on Twitter.

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(32) comments

Mark Lai

To Brad Hovinga, the supervisor of Wyoming Game and Fish Department. You don't fit this position. You made wrong decision of killing two innocent animals.

Sofia Jarmillo Staff
Sofia Jaramillo

A comment has been removed because it violated our commenting policy. No personal attacks. Keep the conversation proactive. Be respectful to other commenters and the Uptain family please.

Jim Bristol

This is a very sad situation, that a man and two bears are dead.
After a night plus of a downed critter, you have to be ready for anything going in to look for it. At that point, you may want to leave the elk for the bears?
I don't think the bears acted unnatural, they want food this time of year.

Mark Lai

agree. They should give more warning to people, instead of stupid killing animals.

sean henry

took what was going to Prager U and donated here.instead.. feels good


Sofia Jarmillo Staff
Sofia Jaramillo

You can also read about the fundrasing efforts here in our article: https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/this_just_in/article_fb4b57bc-76fb-5d5c-8b01-a6ec5b3071c7.html - JHNG Producer

Carol Deech

Dan Thompson contradicted himself. How can he be sure he has the right bear if he boldly admits that the bears most certainly did not remain in the area?? Something is not right with this entire story yet he went ahead and killed two bears anyway? Judgement? The second Bear didn’t even attack why kill it cause you can?? Something is very ugly about this story and how fast Wyoming reacted? I have a LOT of doubt.
I pray Mr Upton family finds peace and my thoughts and prayers are with them.

Pat Sides

I do not understand any of this! for starters WHY was an animal (any animal) shot w/ a BOW (that has to be a slow, painful death!) and LEFT until the NEXT afternoon in the wild where it would be perfectly logical that something would come along and eat - DUH! Why were the bear's killed because they "might" be the bad guys? To top it all off the jerk frm. Florida "threw the gun before beating a hasty retreat" DUH! Sounds like a bunch of VERY STUPID people!

sean henry

Carolyn please stop. or take your ignorance to Buckrail where it really fits in.

William Addeo

Bottom line; This is a very sad hunting misadventure. When you enter the wild country, you enter the food chain. Are there too many bears and wolves? Yes. Should we be killing more bears and wolves? Yes. I don't hope this incident causes Fish and Game to wake up. That's way to big a price to pay for common sense and logic to prevail. Nobody has any answers for this hunting tragedy, so don't try to figure it out. You weren't there. God Bless the family and donate money to help!

Maximilian Werner

The public is going through the same process as F & G or anyone else who is trying to understand what happened and why. All we have to go on is what's reported and what's reported doesn't make sense. The last thing we need is an uncritical public.

Robert McKay

Wild country indeed. While true that we were not there is not hard to imagine what happened and why. As we have all heard in the past bears are opportunists. Sensing a meal on the ground being hovered over by another large mammal the bear asserted its perceived dominance just as it might have if the mammals had been coyote, wolves or mountain lion. What better way to take the opportunity for a good meal. All these other named mammals would have run and run fast away from the elk, but humans are not capable of that and have been told not to run from grizzly. That implied a physical confrontation for the bear which evidently it thought was worth for an easy elk feed. The bear did not know about the pepper spray or the potential presence of a gun so it took the opportunity. Natures way. Be prepared to defend yourself if you stand between a griz and a potential meal.

Carolyn Hall

Abnormal bear behavior? This makes no since. Sounds to me they used horrible judgement on killing the bears. Shame on them!

Carol Deech

I agree Carolyn What was so abnormal about a bear wanting to eat an elk that bleed out all night long. Bad judgement quick reaction to kill for vengeance

Janet Hartford

Such a sad deal. Was upset to read that the client left him, but you never know how you will react in those situations.... I know what I would do... I am a run to, not a run from. But some are not so strong. Bears, any of them are a scary deal, carry my gun, pepper spray and will shoot, but they come so fast! In thick brush you never know, wolfs are also an animal of great concern.... they come to a rifle shot. Potlickers!!!! My thoughts and prayers are with the Uptain family. He was doing what he loved, small consolation for the huge loss... tears.

laurie kress

I feel very sorry for the family. I feel very sorry for the bears also. Both species paid with their lives. This is unfortunately an incident that goes hand in hand when you're in bear country. You are in their territory. It is horrible that he lost his life. You can believe all you want that bears are taking over the world. The truth is, we're taking over their world.

Carolyn Hall

Well said and so true

Linda Thielepape


Maximilian Werner

To the Uptain family, I am so sorry for your loss. I have imagined my own death by grizzly many times, but what I have not considered is how my family would feel were I ever to meet such a horrible fate.

I do wonder about a couple things related to the bear, though, namely, WYFG's comments and detective work. First, would someone out there who knows more than me please explain how this behavior is not "normal" for sows with cubs? I know the cob was a year old, but why would that change the sow's instinct to protect it? As long as they're together, common sense suggests that her protective instinct would remain strong. Under the circumstances, I'm fairly certain that the bear that attacked was the sow. Also, the comment about how the elk was "undisturbed" is misleading. I know it works for the "abnormal" bear behavior hypothesis, but those bears may have just found the elk right around the time the hunters returned to retrieve it. It will be interesting to see what develops in the coming days. Hopefully we can use that information to protect human and grizzly life alike.

Carolyn Hall

I do not believe this was abnormal bear behavior. It sounds like they were throwing out statements to justify there horrible actions of killing the bears. Shame on them!

Linda Thielepape

Agreed! Furious!

Carol Deech

Don’t expect to much

Konrad Lau

To all of the Anti-Hunting Advocates:
So, tell me again about how "threatened" and peaceful the bears (or any other wild animal for that matter).
Tell me again how not generating monies for wildlife management through the sales of hunting license makes sense?
Perhaps you can just e-mail that reply as you push your garage door opener and click to open the remote controlled lock of your air conditioned, sound-proofed house.

Liticia Finlayson

First and foremost, my deepest sympathies go out to the Uptain family This is the most unbelievable and heart wrenching story. For those who are bear advocates, I wonder how you all would feel if it were your beloved husband, son, brother, or father of 5 children? Don’t try to convince anyone that you would continue to cry, “poor bear.” To the judge who has delayed the grizzly bear hunt twice, I hope he feels the pain of the Uptain family for the rest of his life. And for the Florida hunter, I really can’t say what I feel about him because of comment restraints. However the discription of yellow bellied coward seems to fit. I understand that he was most frightened and probably filled his britches but here in the West we do not leave a comrade behind to die such a horrific death. Based on that, it would behoove all guides to not accept out-of-state hunters for clients and better yet, Wyoming needs to ban out-of-stare hunters. They don’t possess the rugged qualities of our Big Wonderful Wyoming state. Again my most heartfelt condolences to the Uptain family.

Carolyn Hall

We are in their territory not the other way around. These are inherent risks you take. If you are unwilling to accept them stay at home! The bears hould not have been killed. If you dont like Grizzlies and black bears move to another state that doesn't have. Wildlife in the west helps to make up the beauty of the west. You take one step in the woods the risk is on you and that is the way it should be. With everything said why is hunting allowed when grizzlies are feeding for the winter? It's common sense what might happen. If you want hunting to occur now. If something goes wrong stop pointing the finger at wildlife and realize you are potentially putting yourself in a bad situation. That is on you and no one else! Btw it's called being accountable and responsible for your actions!

William Addeo

Remember, a conservative is a liberal that got mugged.

William Addeo

"Out of state hunters don't possess the rugged qualities of our Big Wonderful state" Are you braindead? What makes you think that Wyoming residents possess super powers and nobody else should hunt there? Wow! Like John Wayne said "Life is tough, it's even tougher if you're stupid." God help us!

William Addeo

"Ban out of state hunters, they don't possess the rugged qualities of our Big Wonderful Wyoming state." Wow, I guess you have to be born in Wyoming to know how to hunt? I didn't know that. I guess I'm risking my life in the wilds of Wyoming because I wasn't born here. I've only hunted in Wyoming 25 years. I guess I've just been lucky! Wish I would have known this 25 years ago, I would have never risked my life without knowing I was in such danger. Learn something new every day!
Just curious, Can Wyoming people hunt in other states? Just asking?


Directly in response to Liticia Finlayson: Please take the time to poll guides and see if any of them agree with your suggestion of not accepting out of state hunters, and get ready to compensate them for their loss of revenue. Secondly, what exactly is a "bear advocate" in your opinion? No one has cried "poor bear", including the Judge who is delaying the bear hunt, which has absolutely nothing to do with this incidence of a hunter and guide who were field dressing an elk and were attacked by a predator (do you see how I kept it non personal? Of course it was someones's husband, son, brother, father; that's not the point). Stop politicizing this and stop with the "here in West...this is the way we all do it..."; I could use the same nonsensical argument if you swam away from your buddy while he/she was getting attacked by a shark in "my ocean" here in FL; only..... I wouldn't.

Jay Westemeier

Ms. Finlayson, I'm assuming that the deceased man had the "rugged" qualities of your wonderful state that you mention. He was, by the way, a Wyoming resident and hunting guide. Going back a day later to find dead game in bear country lacks good judgement in my book. In fact, an archery season at this time of year in bear country isn't very smart either. In this case, it's just another tragic incident that doesn't justify placing blame on any individual or animal.

Linda Thielepape

Two innocent creatures died because man’s misstep. I am so angry.

Sally Smyth

So sad for all.

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