July 18, 2008 in City

Bear bites camper sleeping in tent

Associated Press

HELENA – A bear entered a tent and bit a camper in the Gallatin National Forest early Thursday, leading the U.S. Forest Service to evacuate and close two campgrounds.

Forest officials say the bear entered a tent at the Soda Butte campground, near Cooke City, at about 3 a.m. and bit a camper on his hand and arms. The camper was asleep when the bear entered, forest spokeswoman Marna Daley said.

“The only specifics I know is that he was injured while protecting himself, and I believe he has bite and claw injuries to his arms,” she said, adding authorities believe the bear was a grizzly, rather than black bear.

The camper received emergency care at the scene and was taken to a Cody, Wyo., hospital. A spokeswoman at West Park Hospital declined to release any information about his condition.

The camper’s name was not released, and Daley said she did not know his age, whether he was camping alone or what attracted the bear to his tent. She said it appeared the camper had properly stored his food.

As a precaution, the Forest Service closed the Chief Joseph campground as well as Soda Butte. The sites are along U.S. 212 east of Cooke City, about five miles from the northeast entrance to Yellowstone Park.

In a news release, the Forest Service said there was evidence the bear visited the Soda Butte campground at least once after the Thursday morning attack. The campgrounds will remain closed “until the bear is located or the immediate concern subsides,” the agency said.

Daley said campers are being reminded to follow the forest’s food-storage order, which includes storing food, drinks and personal hygiene products in bear-resistant containers, or suspending them at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from any trees or poles.

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