Two Northwest College wrestlers were mauled by a grizzly bear while foray through the woods in Cody, Wyoming, according to a news release from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department.
Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry went antler hunting near the Bobcat Houlihan Trail when they had a “sudden, surprise encounter with a grizzly bear,” according to the release.
“It shook me around and I didn’t know what to do,” Lowry told KSL-TV Monday in an interview from a hospital in Billings, Montana. “I curled up in a ball and it got me a few more times.”
Cummings tried to stop the attack on Lowry by yelling, kicking and hitting the bear and pulling on its fur. Commendable that he wanted to help save his friend, in hindsight maybe not the wisest decision.
“I didn’t want to lose my friend. It was bad,” Cummings told the Deseret News. “There was a big ol’ bear on top of him. I could have run and potentially lost a friend, or get him off and save him.”
Antler hunting involves picking up the antlers shed by elk or deer. A seemingly innocuous endeavor. But heading into the woods means you are infringing on the space of wild animals. Why do we think it’s OK to disturb their environment?
It’s not the wrestlers’ fault they were attacked per se, but it certainly isn’t the bear’s fault for going after an intruder.
In drawing the bear’s ire away from his friend, Cummings sustained serious injuries.
“It tackled me, chewed me up a bit, and then when it was done it wandered off, and I started calling out for Brady to make sure he was alright,” Cummings told KSL. “The bear circled back around, and it got me again, chewed on me, and that’s when it got my head and cheek. And then it went away again for whatever reason.”
Lowry suffered a broken arm and puncture wounds. He was able to find their other teammates and get help.
According to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, a hunter and a local resident were able to help the group reach the trailhead and emergency personnel.
Cummings was airlifted to a Billings hospital, while Lowry was transported via ambulance to a nearby hospital. He was later airlifted to Billings as well.
“Special thanks to Park County Search and Rescue and the Park County Sheriff’s office for their quick response and coordination of the rescue. In the vicinity where the attack occurred, reports from landowners and hunters indicate there may be six to 10 different bears moving between agricultural fields and low elevation slopes,” said Dan Smith, Cody Region wildlife supervisor. “Game and Fish will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make management decisions in the best interest of public safety.”
The wrestlers were fortunate that while they suffered serious injuries, they were not life threatening. The work of the local resident, search and rescue and the wrestlers themselves prevented a tragic situation.
The Northwest College Foundation has started a fundraiser to cover Cummings’ and Lowry’s medical expenses.