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ISLAND PARK, Idaho — An Idaho Falls archery hunter was hospitalized after an encounter with a grizzly bear Monday morning.
The elk hunter, who has not been identified, was in the Yale Creek area near Sawtell Peak in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest when he was attacked by a mother grizzly and three cubs.
Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Gregg Losinski said the incident was likely a chance encounter.
"This definitely sounds like a surprise encounter with a bear and her cubs," Losinski said. "When hunters are out they are trying to be stealthy, and not doing the things that would normally prevent them from running into a bear."
The hunter reportedly was carrying bear spray, but apparently couldn't access it because the bear bit his left hand. Fish and Game officials said the man was able to scare the bear off after he used his right hand to shoot at the bear five times from point blank range.
When hunters are out they are trying to be stealthy, and not doing the things that would normally prevent them from running into a bear.
–Gregg Losinski, Idaho Fish & Game
The archer sustained injuries to his hand and wrist, but hiked out under his own power and was transported by ambulance to Madison County Hospital in Rexburg. He was released later Monday.
IDFG officers investigated the area and tried to locate the bear and her cubs to determine their condition. They found no evidence that the bear involved in the attack had been killed or wounded. They also found a deer nearby and said it's likely the adult bear was defending her young and the deer food source.
IDFG has a special cadre of professionals called the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team that are trained and equipped to rapidly respond to such situations. Officials said this attack is different than the recent bear attack and fatality in Yellowstone National Park.
"We still have guys in the wood figuring out what went on," Losinski said. " But this isn't on the same level (as the Yellowstone attack) since there was no fatality or body to consume."
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