Officials say a large bear jumped out on the boy, causing injuries to his wrist, back and buttocks

By Char Adams
August 27, 2018 11:29 AM
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Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty

A bear charged at a family of four on Thursday, chasing a 10-year-old boy and mauling the child before the family fought the animal off using bear spray, National Park Service officials said.

The family from Washington was hiking through Yellowstone National Park, along the Divide Trail, when the bear ran out from nearby vegetation and chased the boy, knocking him to the ground, park officials said in a statement.

It is unclear what caused the bear to attack, but staff told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the bear was with at least one cub and was likely foraging near the trail at the time of the incident.

The family’s identity has not been made public.

The boy’s parents used bear spray on the animal and the “bear shook its head and left the area,” according to the statement. The child was taken to Big Sky Medical Center in Montana with an injured wrist, puncture wounds to his back and wounds around his buttocks. His condition is unclear.

“This incident could have been more serious. We applaud the family for traveling in a group, carrying bear spray, and knowing how to effectively use it during their emergency,” Pat Kenney, the park’s deputy superintendent, told the publication. “We wish their son a full recovery from his injuries.”

Both bear management staff and law enforcement officials responded to the scene and are investigating the incident, park officials continued in the statement. They were looking to identify the bear’s species, as both grizzlies and black bears call the park home.

On average, bear attacks occur at the park about once a year, according to the statement. But there has not been a reported bear attack in Yellowstone National Park since 2015.

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“All of Yellowstone National Park is bear habitat … Please prepare for bear encounters no matter where you go,” officials warned in the statment. “Reduce your risk of a bear encounter by carrying bear spray. Be alert, make noise, hike in groups of three or more, do not run if you encounter a bear and stand your ground if charged by a bear.”

The incident comes just months after 28-year-old Amber Kornak, a seasonal wildlife technician with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was mauled by a bear while working alone near a stream in the Cabinet Mountains of Montana on May 17. She survived the attack.

In July, Apryl Rogers, 71, suffered a neck fracture, injuries to her face and scalp and even lost her left eye when a black bear attacked her in her Groton, New Hampshire, home.

“I’m not gonna let anything get me down. It’s not worth it,” Rogers told WMUR, earlier this month of the incident. “I’d rather laugh than cry, and I do.”