Happy to report Tom Whitney is recovering and in good spirits after getting attacked by a grizzly bear in Island Park, Idaho while out on a trail run. East Idaho News reports the Maryland native visits the area once a year and had run the atv trail off Stamp Meadow Road for the past several years. Last Friday he ran into a griz:
“I noticed on my left side there was this furry patch, and I immediately stopped, looked up and made eye contact with what I quickly realized was a grizzly bear. Before I knew it, the grizzly was 10 feet in front of me. I was trying to position myself in between some trees trying to outsmart it. … After a couple of seconds of realizing that was not going to happen because it is a grizzly bear, I decided to play dead.”
Although the bear that Whitney estimated between 350 and 400 pounds began to swing its claws and bite him, he lay in the fetal position and covered his head and neck. The bear’s cub stayed a short distance away from the attack.
“All I could hear is the growling and I honestly thought, ‘What a way to go, and this might have been it. I said a quick little prayer hoping things would de-escalate, and next thing I knew, the bear took off.”
Not knowing the severity of his injuries, Whitney got up, then walked in the opposite direction of the bear to Stamp Meadow Road. Whitney made it to a paved road and a passerby gave Whitney a ride to the cabin where he and the rest of his family stayed. He called the authorities who arrived and urged him to stop by Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg and he relented. His injuries consisted of puncture wounds and scratches from the animal’s teeth and claws.
“I’ve loved grizzly bears for all my life, and I never thought this would happen to me. Things do happen. … Definitely respect wildlife because they were here first and we’re kind of infringing on their territory.”
Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Roger Philips said Whitney did the right thing by playing dead. Philips advises those being attacked by a bear should drop to the ground, cover their head and neck and wait. In most cases, Philips says the bear will take a couple of swipes of its claws then leave. He also said it is important to wait a moment to let the bear walk far enough away it won’t come back again. Idaho Fish and Game and the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to investigate the incident.image from East Idaho News courtesy of Tom Whitney