Things took a terrible, and ultimately fatal, turn for the worst for a hunting guide and his client in Wyoming when they were attacked by a pair of grizzly bears.
The bear attack occurred Friday in an area near the borders of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and while the client managed to escape with his life, the guide was not so lucky.
Mark Uptain, a 37-year-old father of five, was attacked and mauled to death by two bears, a mother and cub, while the men were field dressing an elk they had shot the day before but had only just then tracked and found.
The pair of bears reportedly ignored the dead elk and “aggressively charged” and began to maul the two men, wounding client Corey Chubon and killing Uptain. Chubon, a resident of Florida, was hospitalized with injuries but has since been released.
Recounting his near-death experience, Chubon said, “I don’t even know if I would ever even imagine seeing something like that happening in my life. In probably one of the most poignant moments of all of it, when that bear did have me by the back of the leg, thinking to myself, this is it, this is my death, this is how I’m dying.”
Bears found and euthanized
Wildlife authorities later tracked down and euthanized the two grizzly bears believed responsible for the mauling.
“All available evidence indicates that these two bears were the bears involved in the Terrace Mountain attack,” said Rebekah Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, in a statement on Sunday.
According to USA Today, the bears will be forensically tested to confirm that they were the bears that killed Uptain, as well as to determine if they suffered any sort of underlying medical issues or had previously been relocated by wildlife officials.
Population in need of management
The fatal attack came shortly after a Wyoming judge had issued a temporary halt to a state-planned special hunt intended to manage the rapidly growing grizzly bear population in the region.
Grizzly bears were recently removed from the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act by the Trump administration because their population numbers are flourishing.
Hunting groups had feared there would be an attack like this if the population wasn’t culled to an extent. “I can only imagine how horrific this was. You’ve got a bear population that’s basically un-hunted, is an apex predator, and has no fear of humans,” said hunting guide and grizzly hunting community spokesman Sy Gilliland.
Uptain leaves behind a wife and five children. A GoFundMe account has been set up by a friend on behalf of his surviving family.
In light of this tragedy, hopefully the courts will step aside and allow the state of Wyoming to better manage its growing and no longer endangered grizzly bear population.