Hunter escapes grizzly attack with minor injuries

AP News
Posted: Oct 31, 2011 5:26 PM
Hunter escapes grizzly attack with minor injuries

A grizzly bear has attacked another person in the Yellowstone region, this time a Wyoming hunter who said the animal came at him with so little warning he had no time to use the pepper spray he was carrying for defense in just such a predicament.

This has been a dangerous year in grizzly country: The big bears that can weigh more than 450 pounds have attacked about 10 people in and around Yellowstone National Park, killing two hikers in separate attacks in Yellowstone.

Elk hunter Timothy Hix, 32, of Jackson, was listed in good condition after being attacked in nearby Grand Teton National Park on Sunday. Park officials expected him to be released Monday from St. John's Medical Center in Jackson.

Hix told rangers he surprised what he believed was a grizzly bear about five to 10 yards away south of Glacier View overlook on Sunday. He said the bear ran at him but he wasn't able to grab his pepper spray, so he dropped to the ground, covered his head and remained still.

"He reported that the bear bit him a couple times and might have swiped him," park spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said Monday.

Park officials said rangers believe the attack was a surprise encounter with a lone grizzly bear but noted that the investigation was still continuing. Authorities closed off an area measuring about a half-mile to a side after the attack.

Unlike most national parks, Grand Teton allows hunting during part of the year. The park's annual elk hunting program began Oct. 8. Hix hadn't killed any elk before encountering the bear.

The hunter responded appropriately to the attack, Anzelmo-Sarles said.

"Sounds like he was doing everything right," she said. "We want to commend him for doing the homework ahead of time."

There have been six recorded bear attacks in the history of Grand Teton National Park.