Grizzly, 2 cubs caught after MT campground mauling
COOKE CITY, Mont. — A mother grizzly and two of her three cubs have been captured after killing one person and injuring two others during a late-night rampage through a campground near Yellowstone National Park.
The mother, estimated to weigh 300 to 400 pounds, was lured into a trap fashioned from culvert pipe Wednesday evening, then left in place to attract the year-old offspring. By this morning, two of the younger bears had been caught and the third could be heard nearby, calling out to its mother.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard said he was confident they had captured the killer bear because it came back to the same site where the man was killed early Wednesday.
Sheppard described the rampage — in which campers in three different tents were mauled as they slept — as a highly unusual predatory attack.
“She basically targeted the three people and went after them,” Sheppard said. “It was like an archery hunter who gets between a sow and her cubs and she responds to protect them.”
Officials have said the sow will be killed. State and federal wildlife officials will determine the fate of the cubs. Sheppard said they are unlikely to be returned to the wild because they could have been learning predatory behavior from their mother.
One of the victims of the attack, Deb Freele of London, Ontario, said Thursday she was bitten on her arm and leg before she instinctively played dead so the animal would leave her alone.
Appearing on network morning shows from a Wyoming hospital, Freele said she woke up just before the bear bit her arm.
“I screamed, he bit harder, I screamed harder, he continued to bite,” she said, adding that she could hear her bones breaking. “I told myself, play dead,” she said. “I went totally limp. As soon as I went limp, I could feel his jaws get loose and then he let me go.”
Freele said the bear was silent.
“This, to me, was just an absolutely freaky thing,” she said. “I have to believe that the bear was not normal. It was very quiet, it never made any noise. I felt like it was hunting me.”
Freele suffered severe lacerations and crushed bones from bites on her arms. The male survivor, thought to be a teenager, suffered puncture wounds on his calf.
The names and ages of the male victims have not been released.