TETONIA, Idaho – An eastern Idaho man was mauled by a grizzly bear just outside his rural home, suffering deep bite and claw wounds across his back, investigators said.
Authorities did not immediately release the name of the 33-year-old victim of the Tuesday night bear attack, saying he requested anonymity. They said he was in stable condition and good spirits in an Idaho Falls hospital.
“He just stepped outside of his house to look for his dog … then the bear knocked him down,” said Idaho Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Steve Schmidt, who visited the man Wednesday.
“The bear caused significant injuries to his head, back, shoulder and buttocks. In other words, the bear was biting him all over his backside,” Schmidt said.
On Wednesday, local police and fish and game officials set out to capture the bear, laying a series of traps and snares near the victim’s home in a rural subdivision outside Tetonia, about five miles west of the Wyoming border.
Schmidt said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has the authority to manage grizzly bears, granted the state agency permission to remove the bear from the wild. The bear’s fate, if captured, is uncertain, they said.
“After the well-being of the victim, the safety of the public is our top concern,” said Jon Heggen, the state agency’s enforcement chief.
The attack is the first in Idaho since July 3, 2006, when a female grizzly attacked a hiker near the western border of Yellowstone National Park. Grizzly attacks in Idaho are rare compared with neighboring states such as Wyoming and Montana, Idaho officials said.
In Tuesday’s attack, investigators said the bear was likely drawn to the area to snack on a moose carcass discovered about 50 yards behind the man’s house. The landscape is a mix of sagebrush terraces and ravines timbered with aspen and conifers and inside a region known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
“The cover is thick enough that unless you walked back there, you wouldn’t know a bear was there,” Schmidt said.
Grizzly bears have been protected for decades under the Endangered Species Act, but the federal government has proposed removing them from that list, citing steady increases in the population in and around Yellowstone National Park.
Federal biologists say the bear population has grown from 4 percent to 7 percent a year since the mid-’90s and that more than 600 grizzlies now live in that region.