Grizzly bear attack kills backcountry guide near Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly bear attack kills backcountry guide near Yellowstone National Park

April 20, 2021

A Montana wilderness guide with a love for the outdoors died after he was mauled by a grizzly bear likely defending a moose carcass near Yellowstone National Park, wildlife officials said.  

Charles “Carl” Mock, 40, was attacked last week while fishing north of West Yellowstone near a campground.

The Gallatin County Sherriff’s Office said Mock died at an Idaho hospital Saturday.

Mock “sustained significant scalp and facial injuries” during the attack, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

According to Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, Mock was alone when the attack occurred, though he did have bear spray with him. It is unclear if he deployed the bear spray, the agency said. 

Rescuers spent about 50 minutes searching for Mock before they located him. Mock was transported via a rescue toboggan and snowmobile then taken the hospital in Idaho Falls, the sheriff’s office said.

The day after the attack, wildlife experts with the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks surveyed the area and encountered a bear that charged the group.

In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a grizzly bear just north of the National Elk Refuge in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo. (Photo: Joe Lieb, AP)

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“Despite multiple attempts by all seven people to haze away the bear, it continued its charge. Due to this immediate safety risk, the bear was shot and died about 20 yards from the group,” Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks said in a statement.

Wildlife officials said they found a moose carcass within 50 yards of where the attack on Mock occurred, indicating the bear, an older male weighing at least 420 pounds, was defending its food source.

A GoFundMe to help pay Mock’s medical expenses says the man “has such passion for outdoors, hiking, fishing, photography, and is a beloved guide to countless visitors in Yellowstone.” Guide company Backcountry Adventures, which offers snowmobile rentals and tours, shared the fundraiser on its Facebook page. Mock suffered a stroke after two surgeries, the GoFundMe said.

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.

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

More than 700 grizzly bears live in the greater Yellowstone region, according to the National Park Service.

Males can grow up to 700 pounds and the animals can live up to 30 years, the Park Service said. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s  Office warned residents to be aware “as the bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for food sources.”

The bears are omnivores. From late March to early May, as they come out of hibernation, they generally eat elk and bison, according to the Park Service.

Fatal grizzly bear attacks are still rare in the Yellowstone region, however. Eight people, including Mock, have been killed in the region since 2010. The most recent death was in 2018 when a hunting guide was killed in Wyoming. 

The animal is protected under the Endangered Species Act and hunting is prohibited. However, the species was briefly “delisted” in 2017 and hunts were planned before a judge reinstated the protections in 2018.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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