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A self-inflicted hit of pepper spray drives off an attacking grizzly in Grand Teton National Park

A grizzly bear that accidentally pepper-sprayed a hiker in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park will not be captured or killed because it may have been trying to protect its cub, the park says. officials said in a statement.

A grizzly bear attacking a hiker on Signal Mountain bit into the man’s bear repellent can, causing the bear to scare off. A 35-year-old Massachusetts man who played dead during the bite escaped safely and spent Sunday night in the hospital.

Massachusetts man hospitalized after grizzly bear encounter in Grand Teton, Wyoming

Signal Mountain, or the roads and trails leading to its 7,700-foot (2,300-metre) peak, had been closed due to the attack, but there was no word on when they would reopen. These closures are typical after grizzly bear attacks on public lands in the Yellowstone region occur several times each year.

The morning sun illuminates Grand Teton in Grand Teton National Park, north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. August 26, 2016. The grizzly bear that attacked a hiker in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park will not be captured or killed by wildlife officials. Park officials said in a statement on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, that they may have been trying to protect the baby. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The decision not to pursue the bear, which authorities determined was acting naturally after being startled, is also consistent with attacks that don’t involve raids on campsites, eating food left by people or similar behavior that makes bears more dangerous.

Rangers track many of the 1,000 or so bears that live in the Yellowstone region, but did not have detailed information about the bear responsible for Sunday afternoon’s attack, according to the statement.

The attack occurred despite the victim carrying bear spray and making noises to alert bears in the woods, the statement said.

Later, the man told rangers that he encountered a small bear, but it ran away. As he reached for his bear repellent, he saw a large bear charging towards him out of the corner of his eye.

He didn’t have time to use the bear spray, instead he collapsed to the ground with his fingers clasped behind his neck and one finger still holding the can.

The bear bit him several times, then bit into a can of pepper spray, causing the can to explode and scaring the bear away.

The man reached an area with cell phone reception and called for help, and a helicopter and then an ambulance took him to a nearby hospital.

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Based on the man’s description, investigators believe the small bear he saw was an older cub of the female grizzly bear that attacked him. Mother bears actively protect their cubs and stay with them for the first two to three years of their lives.

Park officials did not release the victim’s name. He was expected to make a full recovery.

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