Although the Wyoming Game & Fish Department would not release his name to protect his family, the Tribune learned he is Nic Patrick, 65. He lives about 21 miles southwest of Cody and four or five miles from the national forest boundary off the South Fork Road (Wyo. 291).
“He was airlifted out of Cody to Denver to the Univ of Co. Medical Center where he is probably in surgery as I type,” said his sister, Pat Williams-Harter, in a Facebook post hours after the attack.
Williams-Harter said part of Patrick’s face was removed in the attack.
He had facial, back, leg and arm injuries from the sow, said Lee Livingston of Cody on Friday. Livingston, a Park County commissioner and outfitter, has been Patrick’s friend for 30 years.
While seriously injured, Patrick still thought of others, according to his sister’s post.
“His oldest daughter and her 4 children are visiting there — because of that he had the wherewithal to go to his shop and get a towel,” she wrote. “He knew he was hurt and didn’t want to scare the kids so he put the towel over his head.”
Patrick remains in ICU at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.
An immediate concern is the risk of infection, especially from the lacerations in his face. Livingston said he believes Patrick will be remain in Denver a long time.
He will be in the intensive care unit for at least four weeks, his sister said.
“Nic is progressing well! Off the ventilator, facing 2 surgeries next week. Infection remains the big concern,” Williams-Harter wrote Sunday.
Patrick was irrigating at around 6:30 a.m. Thursday when it is believed he and his dog flushed the bear from the brush. The dog probably triggered the attack, it appears.
The bear went after the dog, then attacked Patrick, Alan Osterland, Game & Fish wildlife supervisor in Cody, said Friday.
The sow probably acted on instinct to protect her cubs, Osterland said.
Patrick was able to save the dog, which suffered a slash across its back, Williams-Harter said, and required care from a veterinarian.
The sow attacked Patrick once, backed off and came at him again, Livingston said.
After the attack, Patrick returned to his house, Williams-Harter said.
He was taken to the West Park Hospital in Cody, and then airlifted to the Denver medical facility later that day.
Game & Fish is handling the investigation, said the Park County Sheriff’s office Friday.
Game & Fish set culvert traps hoping to capture the bears. If caught, they could have checked the sow for identification tags or a tattoo on her inside lip to determine whether the sow had been captured before and had any history of conflicts with humans, Osterland said.
Department employees wanted to catch the sow and cubs last week, but they were not considering euthanizing the sow. That would have been a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision.
The department pulled the traps Monday after tracking the bears.
“Trapping efforts have been suspended because the bear has moved into a more remote location and is no longer in the area of the incident or near any homes,” Osterland said in a news release.
“The bears had not received any food rewards and were not localized,” Osterland said. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation and respond to any reports of bears in the area or incidents of human-bear conflicts.”
Patrick served on the Greater Yellowstone Coalition board last year and hosted coalition functions at his ranch, said Jeff Welsch, coalition communications director in Bozeman, Mont.
“Our thoughts have been with him and Joyce since we heard about this,” Welsch said.
“He’s (Patrick) a good guy,” Livingston said.
“He is extremely lucky and has always been in great physical shape. Thank God for that; a ‘normal’ person probably would have been knocked out,” Williams-Harter said.
“We’re pulling for a speedy recovery,” Welsch said.
“He’s in my prayers,” Livingston said.