Hunter mauled by grizzly on North Fork

Posted 10/4/21

A 45-year-old hunter was attacked by a grizzly bear on Saturday in the North Fork area west of Cody, the Park County Sheriff’s Office says. The man was later flown to Billings for medical …

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Hunter mauled by grizzly on North Fork


A 45-year-old elk hunter was attacked by a grizzly bear Saturday morning in the North Fork area west of Cody. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says an initial investigation indicates the man was “attacked after a sudden encounter at close range with an adult female grizzly bear with two cubs.”

The man and his hunting partner killed the grizzly sow, the Game and Fish says, while the man suffered injuries and was flown to a Billings hospital. The department said the man’s wounds appeared to be non-life threatening, but indicated that he remained hospitalized Monday evening.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said Tuesday that the man's thumb was detached in the attack.

In determining where to send the man for medical treatment, "the discussion was, they didn't think they had the resources and the expertise to reattach that thumb here in Cody," Steward told Park County commissioners, saying the group decided they needed to get the man to Billings if there was any chance of saving the thumb.

Dan Coil, special agent in charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said his agency “sends our thoughts to the injured individual as he recovers.”

In coordination with Fish and Wildlife officials, the Game and Fish later euthanized the two cubs.

Grizzlies bears remain under federal protections in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. However, “the service partners with states to manage grizzly bears in grizzly country and appreciates Wyoming Game and Fish responding to the incident,” Coil said.

The hunter had called 911 at 7:38 a.m. Saturday, reporting that he’d been mauled and needed assistance, the Park County Sheriff’s Office said in a Monday news release.

At the time of the call, the man was roughly 5 miles north of U.S. Highway 14/16/20 at the western end of the Wapiti Valley, a little over 20 miles from Cody. Personnel from Park County Search and Rescue, Cody Regional Health and Guardian Helicopter of Riverton were all paged to the scene.

As the crews responded, the injured hunter “made the decision to begin riding out of the wilderness, with the rest of his hunting party, to meet emergency responders,” said Charla Baugher Torczon, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. Search and rescue members met the man on the north side of the Shoshone River at 9:34 a.m. and together they reached the staging area around 10 a.m.

After being treated by EMS personnel, the man was then flown by Guardian Helicopter to Billings.

“The safety of outdoor recreationists is always at the forefront of our minds,” said Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor Dan Smith for Wyoming Game and Fish. “Our thoughts are with the individual who was injured and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Steward said the medical flight was complicated a little bit by firefighting efforts on the Clocktower Fire further up the North Fork.

"We had that big Blackhawk [helicopter] fighting fire coming right into where we were ready to fly out of," the sheriff said, "and we were able to divert that a little bit [and] make sure we didn't have any kind of accidents."