David Trembly, 48, was taking his two sons out for an annual elk hunt in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park when a male grizzly stopped them in their tracks.
According to the Associated Press, the three hunters had encountered the bear early in the day on Thanksgiving Day last year and had tried unsuccessfully to scare it off. An elk carcass found after the incident by park rangers would indicate that the bear was defending its food. The father and sons were equipped with bear spray and had it out at the ready while the bear confronted them.
However, to an angry 534-pound male rapidly closing at the range of a few yards, the sting of the spray could do little. When the bear charged, David Trembly engaged it with the spray while his sons, aged 20 and 17, held fast with their hunting rifles. They fatally shot the grizzly three times at a range of 10 feet, barely enough to step out of the way as the animal came to a crash on the ground.
Federal investigators concluded last week that the shooting was in self-defense and will not be filing charges against the young men. Investigators reportedly complimented Trembly and his sons on their quick thinking and well-placed shots that more than likely saved their lives.
Although bear spray has deterred animals in the past, they are not fool-proof. Wildlife officials recommend keeping the spray close at hand and to practice drawing it quickly. Generally, avoid cooking near camp in grizzly country and leave the area if you sight an animal carcass or bear cubs.
Grizzly bears are protected under federal law and shooting one illegally could earn a $50,000 fine and/or prison time. Grizzlies are legal to hunt in Alaska.