Nature Photographer Identified as Yellowstone Bear Attack Victim
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2010
Contact: Stacy Vallie, 307-344-2012
National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park
NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER IDENTIFIED AS YELLOWSTONE BEAR ATTACK VICTIM
A photographer and author from Bozeman, Montana, has been identified as the man hurt by a grizzly Wednesday in Yellowstone National Park.
57-year-old Jim Cole has published books on the lives of grizzly bears in Montana, Wyoming and Alaska.
Cole told rangers he was attacked by a sow with a cub while taking photographs along Trout Creek in Hayden Valley. Despite severe injuries to his face, Cole managed to walk two or three miles to the Grand Loop Road, where he was discovered by visitors about 1:00 p.m. Wednesday.
Rangers and emergency medical personnel took Cole by ambulance to West Yellowstone, where he was transferred to a Portneuf LifeFlight helicopter from Pocatello and flown to Idaho Falls.
Cole remains hospitalized at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Cole was hiking alone off-trail in a backcountry area of Yellowstone which is prime grizzly habitat. He was carrying bear pepper spray, but it is not yet known if he used the spray on the sow. The incident remains under investigation.
This is the second time Cole has been seriously hurt in a bear encounter. He walked out of the backcountry and took himself to the hospital after being injured by a grizzly in Glacier National Park in September 1993.
Black and grizzly bears are active throughout the park. Rangers always encourage visitors to hike in groups, make noise, and carry canisters of bear spray. Park regulations also require that food, barbeque grills and garbage be stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.
This is the first time a person has been injured by a bear in Yellowstone National Park since September 2005. There have been eight minor bear-caused human injuries in the park since 2000. The last bear-caused human fatality in Yellowstone occurred in 1986.
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Did You Know?
The 1988 fires affected 793,880 acres or 36 percent of the park. Five fires burned into the park that year from adjacent public lands. The largest, the North Fork Fire, started from a discarded cigarette. It burned more than 410,000 acres.