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Bad news, bears: A bear or bears attacked campers near Yellowstone in Cooke City, Montana in the early hours of Wednesday, killing one camper and injuring two others. The bear wandered into the Soda Butte campsite and attacked three separate tents, biting and injuring a teen and a Canadian woman on the arms and legs, and killing another solo camper. The nature of the deceased victim’s wounds hasn’t been revealed yet.
UPDATE: Rangers believe they’ve caught the culprit—a mother grizzly with three cubs. Two of the three cubs have been captured as well. The 300-400-lb. female grizzly will be euthanized, and the cubs will not be released back into the wild, since rangers speculate they may have been taught predatory behavior by their mother. Current evidence points to a rare predatory attack, where the mother actually targeted campers. “She basically targeted the three people and went after them,” Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard told the Billings Gazette.
This is the most overt attack near Yellowstone in almost 30 years. Camper Deb Freele, of Ontario, Canada, survived by playing dead, and shared her story on today’s Early Show on CBS.
“Next thing I know, this bear is chewing on my arm. I screamed. He bit harder. I screamed harder,” she told “Early Show” co-anchor Erica Hill Thursday from a Cody, Wyoming hospital.
In Freele’s case, she said she sustained multiple bite wounds before determining that “screaming was not working.”
“I don’t know if you call it instinct, but something inside me just said … ‘I want to live.’ And I just told myself, ‘Play dead.’ … As soon as I went limp, I [could] feel his jaws get loose and then he let me go and he went away.”
Rangers have closed the popular campground and continue to investigate the incident. We’ll provide updates as they happen.