Last night a bear rampaged through the Soda Butte Campground out of East Yellowstone near Cooke City. A lone camper was killed and two other people were injured by the bear at around 2 o’clock Wednesday morning. Don and Paige Wilhelm of Aledo, Texas heard the first attack. “We heard a lady in the tent next door say, ’No.’ I said, ’Don, there’s a bear,’ and started hearing this snuffling. We heard her say, ’A bear has attacked me.’”
It turns out that this woman received severe lacerations and crushed bones on her arm. Her life was probably saved because she did the right thing and played dead. After waiting for the sound of the animal‘s breathing to go away, the Wilhelm’s took refuge from the chaos in their car.
Later the corpse of another victim was found near his tent about a quarter mile away from the other victims. The species of the bear is not known, but DNA samples have been collected from the campground. If the bear is found, it will be killed. Bear attacks are not new to the Soda Butte Campground. A similar attack occurred in 2008 when a man was injured by a bear while sleeping in his tent at the campground. A young female grizzly was identified as the culprit four days later. The rumor is that officials captured the wrong bear. In that case, we have a serial killer on our hands.
Most bear attacks are spurred by natural things like when a mother bear attacks someone in protection of her cubs. What is disturbing about this series of attacks is that the victims were sleeping in an established campground, completely noninvasive to the bear.
Our family goes camping regularly in bear country but have felt fairly safe due to the population of the campgrounds.
At least most of the family feels safe. I stay up most of the night, listening to the sounds of the woods outside. Every stick breaking, every rustle in the trees sends shivers up my spine. Eventually, I give up watch and fall asleep. Anyway, that’s better than infuriating my sister in the next sleeping bag. Maybe I have a reason to be afraid. The last time we went camping I had to pee in the middle of the night. On my trip to the restroom, all was still and normal. What if I’d left the tent to find the other tents shredded, the other campers bleeding-or dead? It sure sounds like a nightmare. Speaking of nightmares, last night I dreamt that I had to hide in our van for safety from a bear. Is it possible that I was somehow connected to the horrors taking place so many miles away?
Blue Pencil Diaries
Note: Montana officials have identified the man killed by the grizzly as Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The bear pulled Kammer out of his tent 25 feet to where his body was found. A 300 to 400 lb sow and 2 of her 3 cubs have been captured. The mother will be killed. The cubs more than likely will be destroyed also as they have been taught predatory behavior by their mother.
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