Grizzly mauling near Yellowstone kills backcountry guide

·3 min read

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. (AP) — 

A Montana backcountry guide has died after he was mauled by a large grizzly bear that was probably defending a nearby moose carcass just outside Yellowstone National Park, officials said Monday.

Charles “Carl” Mock, 40, who lived in the park gateway community of West Yellowstone, died Saturday, two days after he was attacked while fishing alone in a forested area along the Madison River several miles north of West Yellowstone, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Christine Koosman said.

The male bear, which weighed at least 420 pounds, was later shot and killed when it charged wildlife workers investigating the attack.

The moose carcass was found about 50 yards (45 meters) from the site of the attack, said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Morgan Jacobsen.

Mock, who suffered significant scalp and facial wounds, managed to call 911 after the attack and was found after searchers looked for him for about 50 minutes. 

He was transported by toboggan and snowmobile to an ambulance before being taken to a hospital in the city of Idaho Falls, where he died, according to the sheriff’s office.

Mock was a guide at Backcountry Adventure, which provides snowmobile rentals and tours in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas of national forest, according to the company's Facebook page.

A fundraising website set up on Mock's behalf following the mauling said he was passionate about the outdoors and a beloved guide for Yellowstone visitors. 

Mock when attacked had bear spray — a Mace-like deterrent meant to protect against attacks. Bear spray residue was found on Mock’s clothing, but officials could not determine to what extent he was able to use it against the bear. 

"He was the only one who was there and we were never able to talk to him," Jacobsen said.

The grizzly was killed Friday after it charged a group of seven game wardens and other personnel as they approached the scene of the attack. Several people fired at the animal and it died about 20 yards (18 meters) from the group, Jacobsen said.

Officials said they are confident the bear that was killed is the one that attacked Mock.

The Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming has more than 700 bears. Fatal attacks on humans are relatively rare but increased in recent decades as the grizzly population grew and more people moved into rural areas near bear habitat. Since 2010, grizzlies in the Yellowstone region killed eight people including Mock. Three died inside the park.

The most recent death was in 2018, when a hunting guide and his client were attacked in Wyoming and the guide was killed.

Grizzlies bears have been federally protected as a threatened species outside Alaska since 1975 after being widely exterminated by trappers and hunters early last century. 

Hunting grizzlies is not allowed. But lawmakers from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are trying to force wildlife officials to lift protections so the bears can be hunted.

Mock’s friend, Scott Riley, said he was “an extremely experienced” guide who knew the risks of living and working in proximity to grizzly bears.

Mock, who was single and originally from Pocatello, Idaho, had been fishing in the same area all week without incident, Riley said. His friend said he spent ample time outdoors with Mock, who also kayaked, hunted and rode his motorcycle, and they’d seen lots of bears but never had any problem.

“He was the best guide around,” Riley said. “He had sight like an eagle and hearing like an owl. ... Carl was a great guy.”

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