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A man helping a Michigan bowhunter retrieve his elk was attacked by a grizzly bear Friday near Island Park, Idaho. The hunter had shot the bull the previous evening.

The pair were following the elk’s blood trail when they saw grizzly bear tracks and were then charged by the bear. It’s not clear if the bear had claimed the kill or if it was sleeping in a day bed. The bear bit one hunter on the shoulder and then ran. The hunters were not carrying bear spray or any firearms. The pair was able to hike four miles out and drove to the medical clinic in Ashton, Idaho, where the man was treated for minor injuries and released.

The Michigan archery hunter had been hunting the area for elk since 2000. The incident occurred on Sheridan Creek. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Forest Service is investigating the incident.

Because the grizzly bear appears to only have been defending what it considered to be its food and did not prolong the encounter, Idaho Fish and Game will not risk sending in personnel to investigate the scene until the bear has had a chance to consume the carcass. If the bear had been wounded or behaved more aggressively, then more immediate actions would have been taken. The Forest Service will be posting the area to alert the public of a grizzly bear defending a carcass and will have patrols in the area over the weekend to contact hunters and alert them to the situation.

All hunters in the Island Park area are encouraged to carry bear spray and have it readily accessible. When returning to retrieve game it is important to make noise and be ready to encounter a bear. If a bear has claimed their animal, hunters can contact Idaho Fish and Game about a replacement tag. If a hunter has time to field dress an animal, but cannot remove it all before dark, the entrails should be removed as far as possible from the carcass and items with human scent left in the area.

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