A 41-year-old Cody man was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear while hunting for antlers in the Sunlight area Friday morning.Spencer Smith suffered “severe” injuries to his neck, along …
A 41-year-old Cody man was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear while hunting for antlers in the Sunlight area Friday morning.
Spencer Smith suffered “severe” injuries to his neck, along with other injuries, and was airlifted from the area to a Billings hospital around noon, according to the Park County Sheriff’s Office.
At the time, “Smith was described as being alert and in stable condition,” said Charla Baugher-Torczon, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
Smith had been looking for antlers in the East Painter Creek drainage, north of the Sunlight Basin Wildlife Habitat Management Area, when he encountered the grizzly, according to a release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Following the attack, Smith sent an SOS from his satellite communication device, with the sheriff’s office receiving the distress signal around 10:47 a.m.; Smith reported that he was attempting to make his way back to his four-wheeler.
Powell Area Game Warden Chris Queen found Smith’s ATV at 11:31 a.m., located at the boundary of the habitat management area and the Shoshone National Forest, the sheriff’s office said. The warden then found Smith, who was loaded onto a responding Guardian Flight helicopter at 12:01 p.m. and taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Members of the Park County Search and Rescue Unit and Cody Regional Health’s Wilderness Response Team both responded to the Sunlight area, but Smith was evacuated before they arrived at the scene.
Friday’s bear attack — the first of 2020 — followed a year in which no people were injured by bears in Wyoming for the first time in more than a decade.
“The safety of outdoor recreationists is always at the forefront of our minds,” Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor Dan Smith said in a Game and Fish news release. “Our thoughts are with the individual who was injured and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.”
The attack occurred a couple hours after the Sunlight Wildlife Habitat Management Area opened for the season. The area had opened to humans at 8 a.m. Friday after being closed since mid-December to protect wintering elk.
“Bears are out and active and people should continue to be vigilant if enjoying the outdoors in bear country,” said Dan Thompson, the large carnivore section supervisor for the Game and Fish.
As of Friday afternoon, department personnel were still at the scene, investigating the details of the attack.