With a recent bear attack on an elk hunter north of Jackson, officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are urging hunters in northwest Wyoming to be “bear aware” and take steps to avoid conflicts with bears. 

On the morning of Tuesday, September 13, an elk hunter was attacked while calling for elk. The incident occurred in the Skull Creek drainage on the Bridger Teton National Forest approximately 25 miles northeast of Jackson, WY. Game and Fish’s investigation indicates the victim suffered several injuries, but was able to walk out and get to an ambulance. The hunter was then transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for treatment.

Members of the Department’s Predator Attack Team responded immediately and initiated an investigation of the scene and the incident.

The attack occurred in steep, timbered terrain with limited visibility. The heavy vegetation made it difficult to detect sign or evidence of the incident. Investigators were unable to confirm the species of bear involved, but the type of injuries and reports of the incident are consistent with an aggressive-defensive type of attack from a grizzly bear. Evidence collected is being submitted to the Game and Fish forensic lab in Laramie, which may help to identify the species of bear(s) involved.

“Obviously, our primary concern is with the health of the victim at this time,” said Brad Hovinga, Jackson Wildlife Supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “This is a terribly unfortunate incident and we’re really hoping for the victim’s speedy and full recovery.”

Game and Fish officials point out that hunters are often in areas where bear activity is high. Hovinga notes that while not all conflicts can be prevented, Game and Fish encourages people recreating in areas occupied by bears to do their best at following important “bear aware” tips.

In Camp:

While Hunting:

Field Dressing and Carcass Retrieval:

Bear Encounters:

Hunters are reminded grizzly bears continue to expand their range and can be found in areas they haven’t been for many years, including the Snake River, Wyoming, and Wind River Ranges. Hunting in grizzly bear country requires added skill and preparation. However, every year, hundreds of hunters successfully harvest big game in areas occupied by grizzly bears without having human–bear encounters.

For more information on bear safety, visit the Wyoming Game and Fish website https://wgfd.wyo.gov/  and click the Bear Wise Wyoming link or contact your local Game and Fish office.