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Massachusetts Man Injured in Grand Teton National Park During Surprise Encounter With Mother Bear and Cub

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Massachusetts Man Injured in Grand Teton National Park During Surprise Encounter With Mother Bear and Cub

Posted 2024-06-03  by  Stephanie Mallory

The 35-year-old army veteran says bear spray saved his life

A Massachusetts man is recovering from injuries after a grizzly attacked him while he was hiking in Grand Teton National Park on Sunday, May 19.

Grand Teton spokesman Jeremy Barnum told Cowboy State Daily the man had a “surprise encounter” with two grizzlies in the Signal Mountain Area of the park and suffered serious injuries when one of the bears attacked him.

Shayne Patrick, a 35-year-old Army veteran from South Hadley, told Boston 25 News he’s been shot at, mortared, and experienced explosions from improvised explosive devices, but the bear attack was far worse.

“What happened up on Signal Mountain was a case of wrong place, wrong time,” Burke wrote in an Instagram post from his hospital bed. “I was attacked by a mother grizzly protecting its cub. It was the most violent thing I have ever experienced.”

The hiker told King 5 Seattle that the mother bear slammed him to the ground and bit him multiple times.

“When she pounced, I opted to turn and give her my back and I laid down in the prone position on my belly and braced for the ride, interlocking my hands behind my neck to protect my vitals. The first bite and slash was on my back/right shoulder,” Burke explained in the post. “I screamed. She then turned, stepping on my back. She bit one of my legs, picking me up and slamming me on the ground multiple times. She bit each leg from my buttocks to my inner knee about three times each.”

As he continued to scream, Burke says the bear decided to focus on his head and “went in for a kill bite” on his neck. Fortunately, he was holding a can of bear repellant spray behind his head.

“I still had my hands interlocked and my arms protecting my carotid arteries. I never let go of the bear spray can,” Burke wrote. “As she bit my hands in the back of my neck, she simultaneously bit the bear spray can and it exploded in her mouth. This is what saved my life from the initial attack. I heard her run away.”

Burke says he wrapped his limbs with improvised tourniquets before first responders located him and rushed him to the hospital.

Barnum said when a call for help came in Sunday Afternoon, “Grand Teton National Park rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue personnel responded to the scene to provide emergency medical care and air lifted the patient via helicopter to an awaiting ambulance where he was transported to St. John’s Hospital.”

Burke suffered puncture wounds to his hand, legs, and upper back, but is expected to make a full recovery.

Signal Mountain Summit Road and Signal Mountain Trail were closed to the public as investigations into the attack were underway.

Burke also posted that he asked wildlife officials not to capture or kill the bear because she was defending her cub.

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