Game and Fish completes investigation after antler hunter injured by a grizzly bear


CODY, WYOMING (May 5, 2020) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has completed its investigation into a recent incident where a grizzly bear injured a man in Sunlight Basin northwest of Cody.

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Last Friday, Spencer Smith of Cody was shed antler hunting in the East Painter Creek Drainage when he was injured by a grizzly bear. He was able to walk approximately 1.5 miles to his ATV after the attack where he was assisted by area Game Warden Chris Queen. He was then flown by helicopter to a regional hospital for treatment.

Upon Smith’s evacuation, Game and Fish began an investigation of the scene. Game and Fish personnel determined the location of the encounter and discovered the tracks of a single, adult male grizzly bear. A daybed was found in heavy cover approximately 30 yards from the site of the attack.

There was no sign of the bear in the vicinity during the investigation, but evidence at the scene indicated the bear was at or near the daybed at the time of the encounter. Game and Fish has not been able to identify the individual bear involved in the incident.

Smith was hiking alone in steep, moderately heavy timber when the attack occurred. He was unaware of the bear until it made contact with him. During the encounter, the bear bit Smith’s bear spray holstered on his hip, rupturing the canister, and presumably causing the bear to break-off the attack.

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“This appears to be a surprise encounter that occurred at close range,” said Dan Smith Cody Regional supervisor. “The bear was likely behaving in a defensive manner resulting from an unexpected, close encounter.”

Due to the circumstances involving a surprise encounter and the inability to identify the individual bear, Game and Fish does not plan to take management action at this time, and no area closures have been implemented. Game and Fish will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and will make management decisions in the best interest of public safety.

“This is a very traumatic experience for a person to go through,” said Dan Smith. “We wish Spencer the very best for a full and speedy recovery.”

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