The latest update from Wednesday’s bear attack which killed a man and injured two others near Yellowstone. From The Associated Press:
COOKE CITY, Mont. — The fourth and final grizzly bear believed involved in the fatal mauling of a Michigan man at a campground near Yellowstone National Park has been captured, Montana wildlife officials said.
Fibers from a tent or sleeping bag were in the captured bears’ droppings, and a tooth fragment found in a tent appears to match a chipped tooth on the 300- to 400-pound sow. But officials say they will decide the bears’ fate only after seeing the results of DNA tests that are expected Friday.
“Everything points to it being the offending bear, but we are not going to do anything until we have DNA samples,” said Ron Aasheim, a spokesman for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Evidence indicates all three cubs were present for and likely participated in what Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard called a sustained attack on Kevin Kammer of Grand Rapids, Mich. He was pulled out his tent and dragged 25 feet to where his body was found.
The two other victims, Deb Freele of London, Ontario, and Ronald Singer, of Alamosa, Colo., were hospitalized in Cody, Wyo. Singer, 21, was treated and released, and Freele was scheduled to have surgery Friday for bite wounds and a broken bone in her arm, said West Park Hospital spokesman Joel Hunt.
Cooke City resident Cliff Browne, 70, said visitors and residents of the Yellowstone gateway community would be relieved to hear the news of the final capture.
Living in proximity to grizzlies is part of life and he said he’s not particularly scared of bears, but this one was different, he said.
“I hate to see them have to put it down, and I’m not one of those bleeding-heart environmental protectionists, but I don’t see any choice,” Browne said Friday morning.
Messages left Thursday for Kammer’s mother-in-law and brother-in-law in Michigan were not returned Thursday.
Singer and his mother, Luron Singer, did not immediately return e-mail messages from the AP. But Luron Singer told The Denver Post that her son, a former high school wrestler, had been camping with his girlfriend.
When he felt the bear biting his leg, he started punching the animal, she said. His girlfriend screamed, and the bear ran away.
“He is doing fine,” Luron Singer told the Post. “He went fishing today.”
Freele said she couldn’t understand why the bear attacked her, because she posed no threat.
“If it was something that I had done — if I had walked into a female with cubs, and startled her, and she attacked me — I can understand that,” she said. “She was hunting us, with the intention of killing us and eating us.”
All the victims did the right thing, and there was no telling why the bear picked out those three tents, Sheppard said.
“She basically targeted the three people and went after them,” he said.
In 2008 at the same campground, a grizzly bear bit and injured a man sleeping in a tent. A young adult female grizzly was captured in a trap four days later and taken to a bear research center in Washington state.
Browne said he didn’t expect to change his routines because of the attacks.
“You can’t live in fear,” he said. “It’s not going to change my going out hiking.”
About 600 grizzly bears and hundreds of less-aggressive black bears live in the Yellowstone area. The grizzlies are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Associated Press Writer Ben Neary contributed to this report from Cheyenne, Wyo.
A scary story out of Yellowstone National Park. Apparently, a bear or some bears went through a campsite and killed a man and injured two other campers. You can read the entire story here on the LA Times’ outposts blog:
What I find particularly disturning are two things. One, this was an attack in an established campsite, not in some backcountry locale where bear danger is considered a bit higher.
Second, is this quote:
“This is not typical bear behavior. It’s odd. It’s not normal,” said Ron Aasheim, Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman.
There have been theories on why some animal attacks have become more common. Human encroachment, for one. That wouldn’t seem to be an issue here.
Others cite climate change, as warmer temperatures change floral growing patterns that adversely affect bears’ food supplies, forcing them to look toward food sources closer to where humans are. Desperate animals do desperate things, the thinking goes.
I don’t know if any of that explains what happened Wednesday, but it is worth watching. The campers who were attacked were said to have taken every proper precaution to prevent bears from getting in their food or otherwise arousing the bears’ curiosity.
Yellowstone is a very popular area nationwide, including Oklahoma. Bear attacks are really rare. But as the investigation of this attack unfolds, it will be interesting to see if researchers find some new, more dangerous behavior pattern in Yellowstone’s bear population.
You might remember a post I wrote about filtering water in the backcountry. The Norman Backwoods store is going to have a free clinic on water filtration and safety early next month. Here’s the details:
Filtration and Hydration Basics, 7 to 8 -.m. Aug. 10, Norman Backwoods.
This demo will be geared towards the beginning backpacker/traveler to show you the ins and outs of making water found in the backcountry safe to drink. Learn what is lurking in those seemingly pristine backcountry streams, the dangers of drinking untreated water and how to eradicate viruses and bacteria.
This hand-on, free clinic on water filters will show you the different options for any adventure.
There is no fee for this workshop and no RSVP is needed.
For more information, contact Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405.573.5199.
Worth going if you plan on doing any outdoor activities where you will have to use natural sources for water.
If you remember a story from last week about the teen who fell while hiking up Elk Mountain, it was pretty riveting. The man’s mother sent me a link with a write-up from the Oklahoma National Guard. It gives a few more interesting details and is worth a read. It shows just how much work, and how much careful planning, went into this rescue. Have a read…
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Claudia K. Bullard, Oklahoma National Guard Office of Public Affairs
An Oklahoma National Guard helicopter crew extracted an 18-year-old man from the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge July 15 after an attempt to remove him from a narrow crevice came to a standstill.
Blackhawk pilot Chief Warrant Officer Michael Taylor, of Noble, said his unit, Detachment 1, Company C, 2 Battalion, 149th General Support Aviation Battalion, received the mission Thursday afternoon after the initial rescue crew had difficulty removing the man from the ravine. He said military equipment and training made it possible to complete the rescue in “a steep, rocky and difficult” environment.
“Civilian air rescue does carry some rescue equipment,” said Taylor, “but the main benefit in this mission was the hoist. Without it, it would have been impossible to complete the rescue.”
Taylor held the UH-60 Blackhawk at a hover over the site while the crew lowered Sgt. 1st Class John Steele, a medic, down to the canyon wall along with rescue equipment.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hernandez, of Nobel, Sgt. David Tillman, of Hennessey, and Sgt. Paul Shook, of Norman, assisted Taylor and Steele.
Clint Wagstaff, Director of Emergency Management for Comanche County, was watching the rescue from the command center two miles from the site. He said the young man and his friends make an annual hike in the wildlife reserve located near Lawton. This year the hike proved dangerous when the man slipped from the path.
“There was no way to get him out without a four to five mile cross-country hike,” said Wagstaff, adding that local units from Ft. Sill, Altus Air Force Base, and Sheppard Air Force Base were called first for assistance. The only unit that had the right mix of available equipment, manpower, and training was the Oklahoma National Guard.
Deputy Refuge Manager Ralph Bryant was kneeling beside the patient when the chopper arrived. He called the extraction “very precise.”
“The medic landed right at the feet of the patient,” said Bryant. “He was very professional and knew exactly what he was doing.”
According to Bryant, the man, who was leading the hike, slipped and tumbled approximately 80 feet until his fall was broken by a boulder. He suffered extensive injuries including a fractured skull, broken pelvis, broken ribs and two punctured lungs.
“The slope was nearly 90 degrees,” said Bryant. “There was no way to go up or down. We were prepped to go down but it was extremely difficult and could have caused more injury. I really thought he wasn’t going to make it,” said Bryant.
Taylor, who has worked full-time for the Oklahoma Guard since 2005, said experience in the combat zone and Hurricane Katrina has helped make him proficient when flying rescue missions.
“Our first mission in Afghanistan was an extraction in a very steep valley. Thursday’s mission reminded me of that first mission,” said Taylor.
“We train for this all of the time. It is important to be familiar with the equipment and the procedure for sending a medic down into a small area.”
Pretty amazing story of a successful search and rescue operation.
Sad news out of Yellowstone concerning a man with Oklahoma connections who disappeared there. Here’s a story from The Associated Press:
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Authorities say a former Marine missing in Yellowstone National Park has been found dead after taking his own life.
Peter Louis Kastner of Oklahoma City was 25. Rangers had been looking for him since May 31 when his overdue rental car was found at a trailhead.
Kastner’s body was found July 14 by researchers working in the park’s backcountry. An autopsy confirmed the body’s identity and showed that Kastner had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The National Park Service says Kastner served four years in the Marine Corps and was twice injured by homemade bombs while serving in Iraq. Authorities say he was originally from the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. area and had recently moved to Oklahoma City to attend college.
I guess what isn’t known is why he picked Yellowstone to be the place where he ended his life, though it’s not totally uncommon for people to go to wild places to commit suicide. It sounds like, from this story, that this man had gone through some pretty tough times. Sad indeed.
This is a story where the main subject here is lucky to be alive. Having hiked and climbed in this area, there are plenty of places where people can cliff out and fall. So this is both a story of amazing fortune and caution. It’s written by one of our reporters at The Oklahoman. Have a read:
Harrah teen falls down mountain, lives to tell tale
BY MATT DINGER
LAWTON — The ground slid from beneath Sam Raglin’s feet, and he said he began to pray as he tumbled down Elk Mountain on Thursday morning.
Raglin, 18, of Harrah, came to about 10 or 15 minutes later. He had fallen about 25 feet down the mountain at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, suffering a serious head injury along the way.
“I was just trying to find the quickest way to the top, and I got a little ahead of myself,” Sam Raglin said.
Friend Jamen Nowka said: “I heard some scuffling, and I hear something like someone had lost their footing, nothing big. It didn’t sound like anything bad and then I hear my friend Chris say, ‘Sam fell. Sam fell, and it’s bad.’”
Nowka was one of six friends with Raglin that day. They have all known each other since preschool, Nowka said.
“I got to Sam first. It was a real steep part. You had to really work to stand there. I get to him, and there’s blood running down his head. He’s unconscious and was making heavy breathing sounds,” he said.
Two other friends were also able to get Raglin, who was pointed down the mountain and lying on his stomach. They flipped him over and began treating him with a first-aid kit they had with them.
A friend lower on the mountain made a call with his cell phone, and Nowka grabbed the phone as he scrambled down the mountain to meet park rangers and paramedics where their vehicle was parked.
They all hiked back to Raglin with medical supplies, but after seeing the terrain, an Army National Guard helicopter was brought in to lift him out of the area and into a medical helicopter.
He was taken to OU Medical Center, from where he was discharged Saturday afternoon, mother Anita Raglin said.
“From the top of his head to the tip of his toes, he has injuries,” she said.
A fractured skull, bleeding in the brain, a pair of punctured lungs and a broken pelvis are among the worst of his injuries, she said.
“He’s healing fast. It’s quite a miracle, really,” Anita Raglin said. “The people that were down there at the mountain really did not expect him to make it.”
Raglin said he got to a point where it would have been harder to go backward than forward, but unsteady footing sent him tumbling down the mountain. He had landed on a ledge, just feet from another 30-foot drop.
By the time paramedics trekked up the mountain, Sam Raglin had been at the accident site more than five hours, Anita Raglin said.
“They were in the roughest, most isolated part of the park which is that Elk Mountain,” she said.
He surprised doctors, family and the emergency personnel who rescued him by getting onto his feet the next day. He’s been ordered to two weeks of down time while his injuries heal.
“I had so many injuries, and not a single one of them needed surgery or anything like that. I’m really just not in a tremendous amount of pain,” Sam Raglin said.
Everything that happened to him could have killed him, but it didn’t and that’s amazing,” Nowka said.
Anita Raglin said she was impressed by how the former boyhood friends, now men, handled the ordeal.
“They stepped up and acted like men who knew what they were doing,” Anita Raglin said.
This wasn’t the first tragedy to befall the Raglin family this year. A tornado in May destroyed the family home, which was built in Harrah 25 years ago.
This is an interesting post from Outside Magazine blogger Alan Arnette. If you remember back in the spring, Jordan Romero was all the rage among those following climbing’s “youth movement” for his ascent of Mount Everest.
No comes Matt Moniz, 12, who is trying to hit all 50 states’ high points in 50 days. He has one to go, Mauna Kea in Hawaii. He’s been doing this with his father. Matt has also topped out on several of the famed Seven Summits of the world (high points of the world’s seven continents).
Anyway, here’s the link to the blog post, which includes some videos. Have a look:
With the stories and blog posts we’ve had about caving, I was given some information that might be of interest to people who would like to learn search and rescue techniques in caves.
This is a highly specialized version of search and rescue, but as we have seen lately, it’s one that is needed in Oklahoma. Much thanks to Bill Becquart and Curtis Foote for passing along this information. Have a read:
WHAT: Cave Search And Rescue (SAR) Workshop, Aug. 28-29 (16 hours over two days).
Oklahoma has many caves which are used for recreation and scientific research. This introductory level workshop is designed to familiarize participants with the special problems that might be faced by responders conducting search and rescue operations underground. Emphasis is placed on not just the safety of the rescuer, his team, and the patient, but also the protection of the fragile cave environment.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Anyone interested in cave search and rescue; grottos and cave organizations; SAR personnel needing a refresher; emergency response personnel and managers; community members and groups with interest in SAR.
WHERE: The University of Central Oklahoma Selman Living Lab.
LOCATION: Near Alabaster Caverns State Park, Freedom.
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS ALLOWED: minimum 10, maximum 30.
COST PER PARTICIPANT: $300 per person.
LODGING & MEALS Lodging and six meals provided at the Selman Living Lab.
For more information, contact Dr. Bill Caire at UCO at email@example.com.
Here’s a video that promotes an upcoming event to help out Oklahoma’s biking trails. Have a look, and see if you can’t make it to Oklahoma Trail Aid on July 17!
Here’s some more news about a seminar for those who enjoy the outdoors. This one is sponsored by Norman’s Backwoods store.
Knot-Tying 101, 7 to 8 p.m. July 29
We will focus on learning four basic knots that will help secure your tent, hang your bear bag or set up a backcountry clothesline. All necessary materials are provided.
This clinic is free, but limited to 10 participants. Scouts are always welcome.
RSVP to Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-5199.