Officials have said — and Patrick said he agrees — they believed the bear was acting simply to protect her young when it attacked him at around 6 a.m. while he was irrigating.
Patrick has been at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, having his face rebuilt after the bear practically tore it off.
“Four or five surgeries to go,” Patrick said Wednesday as he waited for the doctors to release him from the hospital.
He will remain in Denver with friends for another week and undergo more operations, he said. Despite the horrific attack, he looked on the bright side during an extended telephone interview with the Powell Tribune.
“It could have been a whole lot worse,” Patrick said.
The 400-pound sow came after him twice, but not to kill, he said.
“Either time she could have taken me out,” Patrick said.
Patrick said the Aurora hospital has one of the largest ICU burn units in the region and he couldn’t praise his plastic surgeon enough.
Patrick said he also understands why the bear was where it was that morning. Global warming is driving bears out of traditional habitat where they could once find abundant cutthroat trout in gushing streams, white bark pine nuts and other plentiful edibles, he said.
Hopefully the sow that assaulted him found safety and lots of food in the high country, Patrick said. “I hope she can get up there and gets fat and sassy,” he said.
Meanwhile, friends and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have offered to harvest the hay on his South Fork of the Shoshone River ranch where the incident occurred while he undergoes the surgeries and treatment, Patrick said.
Seven grizzlies were in the area when he was attacked. He said he is glad he suffered the injuries rather than family or friends. Patrick is enduring his experience and the aftermath of surgery with optimism and courage.
“It’s not the end of the world when something like this happens,” he said.