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Bear attacks man in remote canyon during river-running trip

A 78-year-old man was attacked by a black bear at 12:30 a.m. today in a remote canyon in southeastern Utah, according to the Division of Wildlife Resources.

The bear punctured the man's torso and right arm and left scratches on his left arm. He is reported to be in stable condition after being airlifted to a hospital.

According to a DWR press release, nine members of a family and four river-running guides were rafting on the Green River in Desolation Canyon, an extremely remote area east of Sunnyside. They stopped to camp at an area called Rock Creek Ranch. The area, which is privately owned, is located at river mile 53.5 in the canyon.

At approximately 6 or 6:30 p.m. yesterday, a bear reportedly came into the group's camp. The press release indicates that a member of the group fired a warning shot in the air to chase the bear off. The bear apparently ran up a nearby hillside and out of their view.

Later, the group went to bed. Some were reportedly sleeping inside tents and others were sleeping on cots.

At approximately 12:30 a.m. this morning, the bear reportedly returned to the camp site. At that time, the family awoke to the sight of the bear attacking their 78-year-old father, who was sleeping on a cot. One of his daughters jumped on the bear and started hitting it with her fists. After a struggle, and with the help of other family members, they managed to pull the bear off of their father. At that point, one of the father's grandsons reportedly shot the bear in the back, which caused the animal to run off.

The press release reports that family members found the bear dead later in the morning. DWR personnel will retrieve the dead bear before the end of the day.

The injured man was apparently flown out of the canyon at 4 a.m. this morning by a LifeFlight helicopter. The remaining members of the family were flown out of the area in an airplane.




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