A hiker was attacked and injured by a bear in the Beartooth Mountains on Sunday afternoon.
The 48-year-old man, Bradley D. Johnson of Plymouth, Minnesota, received "severe injuries to his arm, shoulder and back," said Park County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lance Mathess.
Medics from Guardian Flight had to hike in about a mile to reach Johnson. They carried Johnson to their waiting helicopter, which took him to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings for treatment.
Johnson had reportedly been backpacking with three friends in the Shoshone National Forest, near Granite Lake and the Wyoming/Montana border; he had hiked out ahead of the group when he came upon two bears “at close range.”
“The encounter happened too suddenly for him to deploy the bear spray he was carrying,” said a Monday news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, adding that the incident appeared to be “a surprise encounter between the individual and two bears.”
After the attack, two of Johnson's friends hiked out and went for help while one man stayed with Johnson. The Sheriff's Office was contacted around 3:42 p.m., about two hours after the attack.
At that time, Park County Search and Rescue members were already assisting an injured climber on the North Fork. Several members were pulled from that incident and sent to the Granite Creek area, along with an aircraft launched to determine Johnson's exact location, Mathess said. Guardian Flight, which had already sent a helicopter to help with the climber on the North Fork, dispatched another chopper to the Granite Lake area, he said.
Johnson was located quickly, but the closest landing zone wound up being about a mile away, Mathess said. Because of limited space on the helicopter, Johnson's companion, 45-year-old Justin Reed of Medina, Minnesota, had to be left at Granite Lake. With night falling, a team of search and rescue members, led by a Game and Fish officer, hiked in to the area and guided Reed back out. It was a roughly seven-hour trip for the team, Mathess said: They headed up the Muddy Creek Trail around 7 p.m. and returned with Reed at 2:15 a.m. Monday.
Personnel from the Game and Fish were at the scene on Monday, hoping to gather some more information — such as what type of bear was involved.
“We wish the individual a full and speedy recovery and are appreciative of his willingness to provide detailed information about the incident,” said Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor Dan Smith.