Investigation concludes on bear attack of backpacker earlier this week

WYOMING – Wyoming Game and Fish Department has completed an investigation into a recent incident where a bear injured a man backpacking in the Beartooth Mountains.

Bradley Johnson

On Sept. 9, while hiking near Granite Lake in the Beartooth Mountains, Bradley Johnson, 48, of Plymouth, Minnesota, was attacked by a bear in a sudden, surprise encounter. Bradley received serious injuries during the attack to his arms, shoulder and back, and was flown by helicopter to an area hospital.

Johnson, who is an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor, was reportedly traveling with companions that included a friend, Justin Reid, who is a trained firefighter and EMT.

During the course of the investigation, Game and Fish personnel interviewed the victim and members of his party. They also visited the site of the attack several times. While at the site, Game and Fish found evidence that multiple grizzly bears had been in the area utilizing pine nut caches as a food source.

Due to the presence of multiple bears in the area using this food source, Game and Fish was unable to identify the individual bear, or bears, involved in the attack.

Dan Smith

“This appears to be an unfortunate case of a surprise encounter that occurred at close range,” said Dan Smith Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor. “After spending time at the site of the incident, it was determined the bear was most likely behaving in a defensive manner to protect a food source. Although the species of bear has not been positively determined, we suspect the attack involved a grizzly bear.”

As a precaution, Game and Fish coordinated with the US Forest Service to temporarily close a two-mile area around Granite Lake. For more information about the closure, call the Shoshone National Forest office at 307-527-6921 or click here.

“Based on the information we have now, Game and Fish plans to take no management action at this time,” Smith added. “Our best wishes continue to be with the victim as he recovers.”

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