Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Saga of the world's most famous grizzly

In June 2007, Dennis VanDenbos, a high school science teacher from Lander, Wyo., was attending an education conference at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Mr. VanDenbos set out walking one morning and, unbeknown to him, he spooked a mother grizzly bear and three cubs that were feeding on an elk calf they had just killed. Acting in defense of her offspring, the mother sprang from cover and set upon the human intruder. In a single freeze-frame moment of clarity, VanDenbos saw the angry mother, her neck fur standing on end, and beside her three smaller bear shapes. Backpedaling, he yelled and waved his arms to try to make himself look bigger. Unfortunately, in retreat, he stumbled. As VanDenbos tried to stand up, he was eye level with the parent. “I dove straight down and pulled my arms over my head,” he said later, and braced for the worst. “She came and bit me in the back as I played dead. I don’t know why, but I had the sense it was just a warning.” The sharp nip was followed by a more powerful clamping of teeth into his backside. VanDenbos, now pinned to the ground, felt a bear paw on his left calf, and then he was stung by another bite in his left rump. A moment later, he heard a loud human voice. The weight of the paw that had been resting on his body suddenly lifted. As it turned out, a cook and a wrangler who guides horseback rides had spied the huddle of bears. When they yelled, the mother and cubs ambled away...more

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