ISLAND PARK, IDAHO- Early Saturday morning September 24th, a 40-year old archery elk hunter from Island Park, Idaho was injured in a surprise encounter with a bear. The incident occurred in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, approximately a half-mile east of the area known as Last Chance.
Results of the initial investigation indicate the attack occurred 80 feet from where the bear had been resting in a day bed. The bear made contact with the hunter resulting in injuries to the man’s right arm and left hand. After making contact the bear ran off, just as the man’s hunting partner fired his bear spray. The bear involved in the attack may have been a grizzly, but initial interviews and site evidence were not conclusive. Hair and other samples collected from the site are being sent off for DNA testing to confirm the species of bear involved.
The injured hunter was Life Flighted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls where his condition was stabilized and he will undergo surgery for his injuries. His partner was unharmed.
Idaho Fish & Game officials believe that this bear incident was caused by a different bear than the grizzly bear that has been habituated to human-related foods in a nearby part of Island Park. In that situation, the bear involved has been documented to have received over 75 food rewards from humans. Biologists have been attempting to trap the bear and have received authorization from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to euthanize it once caught. Because the Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population is still technically listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, final disposition of bears is under their authority while daily management responsibilities fall to the state wildlife departments.
Hunters are reminded that all of Idaho is black bear country and some areas such as the Upper Snake and Panhandle Regions are also home to grizzly bears. Anyone out in the woods in the fall is encouraged to carry bear spray and be especially aware of what other animals might be present in addition to their intend game.