According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, a shed hunter perusing for shed antlers north of Cody was bitten on his arm and leg after stumbling upon a sleeping grizzly bear.
Large carnivore conflict coordinator Brian DeBolt told the Casper Tribune that despite the bites, the man luckily did not sustain any puncture wounds and did not require any serious medical attention.
“Luckily, it was real minor injuries considering he was attacked by a bear,” DeBolt said.
The man was reportedly making his way through a heavily timbered area when he surprised the bear who at the time, was on his day bed. According to recounts from the victim, the startled bear attacked him briefly before fleeing the scene.
While in many cases of bear attacks, game and fish officials will make an attempt to locate the animal, this case was ruled as a case of a natural defensive action and did not warrant further investigation.
“Based on what we discovered and his story, it appears that it was just a simple defensive reaction by the bear and it was a natural form of aggression,” DeBolt said. “There was nothing unusual that would lead us to believe there is any human safety risk.”
Attacks much like this one, where unknowingly humans and bears surprise each other, are the most common types of bear and human conflicts in Wyoming and beyond.
“They don’t hear or see each other coming and all of a sudden a person and bear are in very close proximity to each other,” DeBolt said. “ A bear could act aggressively. They evolved on the plains in situations where any time they encountered danger their instinct is to fight. It’s their evolutionary history. Anytime they sense danger for the most time they attack. A black bear on the other hand, are a little more timid and their reaction is to flee, typically up a tree, and that’s why grizzlies are more dangerous than black bears.”
As more humans descend on bear country during the spring in search of shed antlers, the risk for conflict rises significantly. Game and fish officials continue to urge the public to travel with others, make noise and carry bear spray in case of a chance encounter with a bear.