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A grizzly bear in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park that accidentally sprayed itself with pepper spray during an attack on a hiker will not be captured or killed because it may have been trying to protect a cub, according to park officials. The 35-year-old hiker, from Massachusetts, was bitten by the grizzly while on Signal Mountain and managed to use bear repellent to ward off the attack. He pretended to be dead until the bear left, then made his way to safety and spent Sunday night in the hospital. The park closed Signal Mountain and its trail following the incident, a common practice after grizzly bear attacks in the Yellowstone region.

Yellowstone rangers were not familiar with the specific bears involved in the attack, but determined that they behaved naturally after being surprised by the hiker. The decision not to pursue the bears aligns with past incidents not involving aggressive behavior towards humans, such as raiding campsites or consuming human food left out in the open. The victim had been carrying bear repellent and making noise while hiking in the forest, but the attack still occurred. He described encountering a smaller bear that ran away, followed by a larger bear charging at him without warning.

After falling to the ground, the hiker was bitten multiple times before the bear bit into his can of pepper spray, causing it to burst and drive the bears away. The man then called for help using his cell phone and was evacuated to a nearby hospital by helicopter and ambulance. Investigators suspect that the smaller bear the victim encountered was an older cub belonging to the female grizzly that attacked him. Mother bears are known to aggressively defend their offspring and remain with them for several years after birth.

The victim’s name was not released by park officials, but he was expected to make a full recovery from the bear attack. The man’s swift actions in using bear repellent likely saved him from more serious injuries during the encounter. While the park has not announced when Signal Mountain and its summit will reopen, closures are common after grizzly bear attacks in the region. Rangers in the Yellowstone area closely monitor the bear population and track their behaviors, but encounters like this one can still occur despite hikers taking precautions and carrying bear repellent.

Overall, the decision not to capture or kill the bears involved in the attack reflects the understanding that they were simply reacting to being surprised by the hiker and potentially trying to protect a cub. While grizzly attacks in the Yellowstone region are not uncommon, this incident highlights the importance of being prepared and taking precautions when hiking in bear country. The victim’s courage and quick thinking undoubtedly contributed to his survival and ability to receive medical attention promptly.

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