A Wyoming hunter was recovering on Monday after shooting himself while trying to fight off an attacking grizzly bear over the weekend, authorities said.
Lee Francis, of Evanston, was hunting with his son in an area of western Wyoming known as Rock Creek, south of Grand Teton National Park, when he shot the animal around 6 p.m. Friday , according to the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.
Francis “was able to draw his handgun and fire several rounds, which caused the bear to disengage and flee; however, one of the bullets hit Lee in the lower leg,” the agency said.
Francis’ son used a portable satellite emergency notification device to call for help, Sheriff Sgt. says Travis Bingham.
A helicopter rushed him to University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where he was discharged Monday afternoon, hospital spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester said.
The device his son used, sometimes called a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger, sent location coordinates to the Texas-based International Emergency Response Coordination Center, owned by GPS company Garmin. The center notified the nearest first responders.
The son provided first aid to control the bleeding before coordinating a plan to meet lifeguards near Water Dog Lake, the sheriff’s office said. Francis was taken on horseback to the meeting point, where he arrived around 9:20 p.m., he said.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is investigating the attack and looking for the bear.
It was the second bear attack reported in Wyoming this month. On Oct. 15, a grizzly mauled two college wrestlers hunting in the Shoshone National Forest, about 25 miles east of Grand Teton National Park, authorities said.
Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry, sophomores at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, both underwent surgery at Billings and were expected to make a full recovery, officials said.
Wildlife officials said there had been “an abundance of bear activity” in the area of the attack in Shoshone National Forest, also in western Wyoming.
Residents and hunters reported six to 10 bears roaming the lower elevations near Cody, he said.
“Game and Fish will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make management decisions in the best interest of public safety,” said Dan Smith, a supervisor at the agency, in a press release.
TJ Swigart contributed.