A Rock Springs man who was attacked by a grizzly bear Monday morning was mauled twice but still managed to ride on horseback to rescuers.
James Moore, 41, was hunting near the Whetstone Trail in the Teton Wilderness when a sow with two cubs attacked him, Teton County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Matt Carr said.
“He heard the brush rustling right next to him,” Carr said. “He turned and the next thing he knew the bear was on top of him.”
Moore was able to get free and call out to the two other hunters in his party who were scouting nearby around 10 a.m. But before Moore could get to safety the bear came back and attacked him again, Carr said.
Moore had severe lacerations on his head, lip, nose and left arm, sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Stanyon said, along with bite marks on his back and rear hip area. Initial calls reported that some of the bites were 2 to 3 inches deep.
After Carr went to the Pacific Creek trailhead he categorized the facial injury as severe, but not life threatening. But he said he “would imagine it would be a long recovery.”
At 4 p.m. Monday a representative of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls said Moore was in surgery.
Carr said Moore had bear spray in his pack and a rifle in his hand, but the attack happened so quickly that neither was used.
“He did not have time to react in any way,” Carr said.
After the other two hunters heard the commotion, Carr said, they fired a few rounds off into the air in an effort to scare the bear. The Sheriff’s Office was not sure what the party was hunting, but Carr said it was either deer or elk.
Carr said the victim reported that it was a sow grizzly that mauled him and that she had two large cubs with her. The other hunters in the party didn’t see the bears; the animals had left by the time the hunters arrived.
“These were not cuddly little baby bears,” Carr said. “These were full-grown cubs.”
Grizzly cubs stay with their mothers until they are 2 or 3 years old.
Wyoming Game and Fish is investigating the incident, but was not able to comment on the situation as of press time.
Teton County Search and Rescue was en route to the scene after a member of Moore’s party activated a personal locator beacon at 12:33 p.m. that translated an SOS message and location coordinates. The beacon does not transmit a specific message, so Carr said they weren’t sure at first what exactly they were responding to.
Carr said deputies were headed to the area in a Teton Interagency Helicopter when the 911 call came through describing the incident. Search and Rescue, with assistance from Grand Teton National Park, was able to get a team in to “package the patient and transport him to the trailhead.”
The three hunters had several horses with them, and Moore rode most of the way out on his own, Carr said. Because of the personal locator beacon, Search and Rescue was able to track the movement of the party and find out exactly where they were.
“We had updates on the patient’s location that kept coming in,” Carr said. “They were moving pretty quickly.”
Moore was then airlifted from the Pacific Creek trailhead in the Bridger-Teton National Forest to the hospital in Idaho.
This is the first grizzly bear mauling in Teton County this year. There were two reported bear maulings last fall: one near Togwotee and another in Skull Creek.