A backcountry guide died over the weekend after being attacked by a grizzly bear outside Yellowstone National Park two days earlier.
Charles Mock, 40, was fishing by himself along the Madison River west of the park on Thursday when he was attacked, according to a release from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (MFWP).
MFWP staff investigating the scene on Friday shot and killed a bear they believe may have been responsible for the attack.
The group of seven staff members yelled and made noise as they walked toward the site to haze away any bears in the area, the MFWP said in a release.
“Before they reached the site, a bear began charging the group. Despite multiple attempts by all seven people to haze away the bear, it continued its charge,” the release said. “Due to this immediate safety risk, the bear was shot and died about 20 yards from the group. The bear was an older-age male grizzly.”
Investigators found a moose carcass about 50 yards away from where Mock had been fishing, indicating to investigators that the bear may have been defending a food source.
Mock had been fishing just south of Baker’s Hole Campground, about three miles west of Yellowstone. The man had bear spray with him, but it is unclear if he was able to deploy it.
Mock was able to call 911 after the attack and was found less than an hour later. He was transported by toboggan and snowmobile to an ambulance, and taken to a hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he died Saturday from his injuries.
Mock apparently knew the area well and was a veteran outdoorsman. According to CNN, Mock worked for Backcountry Adventures, which provides snowmobile rentals, snowmobile tours, and slowcoach tours in the region in and around Yellowstone.
A GoFundMe page created to pay for medical and funeral costs has raised more than $30,000 so far.
“Carl has such passion for outdoors, hiking, fishing, photography, and is a beloved guide to countless visitors in Yellowstone,” wrote Keith Johnson, the creator of the campaign. “He is a hard-working guy with an infectious smile. He is a loyal friend that would help any of us however he could.”
According to the National Park Service, there are approximately 150 grizzly bears in Yellowstone and 728 estimated in the greater region. Most are coming out of hibernation between March and early May.
Mock is the eighth person to die from a grizzly bear attack in the region since 2010.
While grizzly bear attacks are rare, the MFWP says anyone planning to be outdoors should be prepared for a surprise bear encounter.
“Activities that are deliberately quiet or fast moving, such as hunting, mountain biking, or trail running, put people at greater risk for surprising a bear,” the MFWP says.
It offers the following tips to avoid an incident:
- Be aware of your surroundings and look for bear signs.
- Read signs at trailheads and stay on trails. Be especially careful around creeks and in areas with dense brush.
- Carry bear spray. Know how to use it and be prepared to deploy it immediately.
- Travel in groups whenever possible and make casual noise, which can help alert bears to your presence.
- Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.
- Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.
- If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Back away slowly and leave the area.
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