Grizzly Bear Bites Can of Bear Spray in Attack

Grizzly Bear Bites Can of Bear Spray in Attack

A grizzly bear that accidentally pepper-sprayed itself while attacking a hiker in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park will not be captured or killed, as it may have been acting to protect its cub, according to park officials.

During the attack on Signal Mountain, the grizzly bit into the hiker’s can of bear repellent, releasing the spray and causing the bear to flee. The 35-year-old man from Massachusetts, who played dead during the attack, managed to reach safety and was hospitalized overnight.

There is no information on when Signal Mountain, including its road and trail to the 7,700-foot (2,300-meter) summit, will reopen after being closed due to the attack. Such closures are standard following the few annual grizzly attacks in the Yellowstone region.

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Officials decided not to pursue the bears, noting that they behaved naturally after being surprised. This decision aligns with policies for attacks that don’t involve campsite raids, food consumption, or other behaviors increasing bear danger.

Rangers, who monitor many of the Yellowstone region’s approximately 1,000 bears, were not familiar with the ones involved in Sunday’s attack, the statement noted.

Despite the hiker carrying bear-repellent spray and making noise to alert bears, the attack occurred. The man reported seeing a small bear run away before a larger bear charged at him from the side. He had no time to use his bear spray before dropping to the ground with fingers laced behind his neck, holding the spray canister with one finger.

The bear bit him several times before biting into the pepper spray can, which burst and drove the bears away. The hiker then reached an area with cell phone coverage and called for help. A helicopter and ambulance transported him to a nearby hospital.

Investigators suspect the smaller bear the hiker saw was an older cub of the attacking female grizzly. Mother bears fiercely defend their young, staying with them for two to three years after birth.

Park officials did not release the victim’s name, but he is expected to make a full recovery.