The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced that last week a camper was attacked by a black bear near Green River. This incident is the first bear attack case in 11 years in Utah.
According to the wildlife agency, the situation occured during the early morning hours of July 7 when a black bear wandered into a campsite along the Green River in Desolation Canyon.The camp was occupied by students and instructors of the Outdoor Leadership School from Jensen.
All of the campers were sleeping in the open, in a circular pattern with their feet at the center of the circle, when the bear attacked, indicated the wildlife division.
The bear grabbed 18 year-old Nick Greez of Oregon by the head and neck and tried to drag the young adult from his sleeping bag. The victim's screams awakened the other campers, who came to the rescue and chased the bear away.
After administering first aid, the group floated Greez from the Desolation Canyon area to the town of Green River. From here, Greez was taken to the Castleview Hospital where he was treated for puncture wounds and lacerations before being released, indicated the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources report.
The Ute Tribe and the Utah wildlife division are currently working cooperatively to locate and destroy the bear.
After locating the large mammal, rabies tests will be conducted along with other examinations which will determine whether the bear had any other disease or condition that may have contributed to the unusual behavior.
"Bear attacks like this are extremely rare, but they do occur," advised DWR mammals coordinator, Craig McLaughlin. "Often, a bear becomes aggressive towards people after it establishes a pattern of obtaining food from camp sites and picnic areas. Fortunately, there are several things people can do to lessen the chance of a bear attacking them while camping."
McLaughlin says food and food odors are what usually attract bears to humans and that by following a few simple rules, Utahns can virtually eliminate problems with bears.
The following guidelines provided by the DWR will reduce the risk of bear attacks.
Keep campsites clean. Don't leave garbage, food scraps and fat drippings in a fire pit, or scattered around the campsite. Instead, place them in an air tight container and take them home after leaving the outdoor area.
Keep the cooking grills and utensils in the camping area clean.
Don't leave food out. Instead, store food and coolers in the trunk of a car, in a camping trailer, bear proof container or suspended at least 12 feet high between two trees, so bears can't reach them.
Plastic garbage cans and plastic food storage containers are not bear proof.
Never intentionally feed bears by leaving food out for them.
Bears have an incredible sense of smell, so make sure to cook away from tents or sleeping areas.
Also, don't sleep in the clothes that were worn while cooking or while cleaning fish.
Leave those clothes, along with utensils, rags and anything else used in food preparation, cooking, eating and clean up, at the cooking area or sealed inside a vehicle.
In addition to these tips, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources also offers several bear safety items to the public.
Utah residents may also receive a handout card and a magazine article regarding bear safety by contacting most DWR offices or Bob Walters at 801-538-4771.