Visiting Yellowstone National Park is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most visitors. There are few places that match its natural splendor and incredible wildlife—but sometimes that comes with a price. Last month, a bear mauled a victim in West Yellowstone. That’s a tragedy, and in our opinion, the victim did nothing wrong. Read on to learn more about the bear attack and how you can protect yourself when you’re in the back country.
How it happened
While no one knows for sure how this particular bear attack happened, we are familiar with the victim. His name was Carl Mock, and we worked with him at Loomis during the winter seasons for many years. From what we know of the attack and of Carl himself, we don’t believe he did anything wrong—in fact, this could have happened to anyone, even the most well-prepared and seasoned guide.
From what we understand, Carl went fishing after work in a popular area, close to the highway. He then had a surprise encounter with a grizzly bear protecting a buried moose carcass. It is likely the attack happened so quickly that Carl did not have time to deploy his bear spray.
The investigators went to the scene the next day, and found a very aggressive grizzly bear, who would not run away—even with investigators trying to run him off. This is highly unusual. Unfortunately, the bear had to be put down as well.
What you need to know
Most bear mauling incidents, including this one, are surprise encounters. Bear spray is a great option, and Carl was carrying it. However, we must remember there is no way to stay 100 percent safe in grizzly country. It is a risk those of us take to live and work in prime grizzly habitat. Sometimes the bear is simply quicker than someone with bear spray or a gun. That is a sad fact of life—but one that residents of Big Sky, West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Cooke City and Jackson all take on every time we leave our homes in the morning.
Similarly, you must realize that visiting Yellowstone as a tourist carries risks, too. No matter how careful you are, it’s crucial that you respect the wildlife, and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself. Even being in a car does not guarantee your safety. When large animals like grizzly bears decide to attack, there is very little to keep you safe.
However, there’s some good news in that this is only the 15th fatal mauling ever in Yellowstone and the surrounding area. It’s a sad case of wrong place, wrong time and angry bear. As a tourist, you don’t need to be too worried. As long as you carry bear spray and respect the wildlife, you are safer than you are while driving in your car.
We respect Carl Mock’s memory, and encourage our visitors to treat the park with the same respect he did.For more information about our unique Yellowstone tours, call Yellowstone Tour Guides today.