A Wyoming science and PE teacher is recovering from grizzly bear-inflicted cuts and puncture wounds he received yesterday when he unwittingly surprised a sow and her three cubs on a fresh elk kill near a commercial lodge in Grand Teton National Park.
Dennis VanDenbos, 54, told a reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune the first thing that crossed his mind when the grizzly turned to charge him was probably similar to how many News Hound readers might have reacted.
VanDenbos, who was attending an education conference at Jackson Lake Lodge, said he was walking just yards from some cabins when the attack occurred.
“I thought, ‘This is bad,’ so I just dove off to my right off the road and into the ditch and started my play-dead routine,” he said.
He told reporter Whitney Royster that he remained prone, but did not cover his head with his hands as is recommended during a grizzly attack. The bear approached him and began biting his back and buttocks repeatedly.
“I just sensed it as kind of a threatened thing,” VanDenbos said. “She bit my back and kind of shook it a little. Pain is not something that occurred to me.”
Then the bruin forcefully “grabbed and shook” his backside.
“After the third bite (to my buttocks) I had this thought that maybe she was thinking of breakfast for her and her cubs,” he said. “I was a little worried.”
Fortunately, about that time a wrangler and some others from the nearby corrals responded to the ruckus and chased the bears away.
It was the first grizzly attack on a human in the park since 2001.
For now, VanDenbos said he feels very lucky--and very sore.
“The only problem will be sitting,” he admitted.