Two Wyoming college wrestlers have been seriously injured when they were mauled in a vicious attack by a grizzly bear while hunting over the weekend.
The incident occurred Saturday in Cody, Wyoming, when the two men encountered the bear at close range while in heavy cover while hunting for antlers west of the Bobcat Houlihan Trail on the Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming Game & Fish Department said in a press release describing the incident.
One of the men said he jumped on the grizzly to try to get it away from his friend, Brady Lowry. “I grabbed and pulled his ear hard,” Kendall Cummings told Cowboy State Daily in a harrowing account of the bloody attack.
“I could hear his teeth hitting my skull, I could feel him bite into my bones and they kind of crunch,” Cummings continued.
The two men were somehow able to break free from the attack and call 911, prompting an immediate response from both Park County Search and Rescue and Wyoming Game personnel & Fisheries Department.
“With the help of a hunter in the area, a local resident and other members of their party, the two men were able to reach the trail where they met with search and rescue and were transported from the area,” Wyoming Game said & Fisheries Department.
One of the victims was flown by helicopter to a local hospital, while the other was taken by ambulance, authorities said.
Both men, wrestling teammates at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, reportedly underwent multiple surgeries after suffering large lacerations to their bodies and faces. Lowry has a broken arm, reports say.
“Special thanks to Park County Search and Rescue and the Park County Sheriff’s office for their quick response and coordination of the rescue,” said Dan Smith, Cody Region wildlife manager.
An investigation into the attack is underway, but authorities say this appears to be just a “sudden, surprise encounter with a grizzly bear.”
Officials added that there has been “an abundance of low-elevation bear activity” across the region in the past few weeks and urged people to use extreme caution in the area where the attack occurred.
“In the vicinity where the attack occurred, reports from landowners and hunters indicate there may be six to 10 different bears moving between agricultural fields and low-elevation slopes,” Smith said. “Game and Fish will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to make public safety management decisions.”
“This is a sad and unfortunate situation, we wish both victims a full and speedy recovery,” Smith added.
For now, however, both Lowry and Cummings are counting their blessings and consider themselves lucky to have survived the attack at all.
“I don’t know what I’m going to pay him back, I don’t. I owe him everything,” Brady Lowry told the Cowboy Daily Press about Cummings’ quick actions that potentially saved his life. “We’re going to be best friends for the rest of our lives.”