Bears showed ‘abnormal behavior’ in attack that killed hunting guide, Wyoming official says

Hunting guide Mark Uptain was killed by a bear in Wyoming while helping a hunter pack an elk.
Hunting guide Mark Uptain was killed by a bear in Wyoming while helping a hunter pack an elk. GoFundMe by Rauli Perry

Two grizzly bears that officials believe killed a hunting guide and mauled a hunter showed “abnormal behavior” during the attack, a Wyoming wildlife official told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

The bears — a mother and her grown cub — were aggressive during the Friday afternoon attack near the border of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, wildlife officials said, according to USA Today.

“The behavior exhibited by these bears is abnormal behavior for a family group,” Brad Hovinga with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department told the News & Guide. “It’s not typically how we would see family groups behave.”

Teton County officials said the bears did not touch the elk that the two hunters were packing, but instead only “aggressively” charged the two men, according to USA Today.

“The elk carcass was ‘undisturbed’ when it was located ... which suggests that the bear was not necessarily food guarding — a common behavior that often leads to conflicts with humans, especially hunters,” the News & Guide reported. “What’s uncommon is for hunter-grizzly conflicts to turn fatal for the people.”

The bears killed hunting guide Mark Uptain, of Wyoming, and injured hunter Corey Chubon, of Florida, Buckrail reported. Chubon had shot an elk during a “guided bow hunt” on Thursday, but he and Uptain were unable to find the elk before nightfall. They returned on Friday to find the elk.

When they found the “undisturbed carcass,” they were “aggressively charged by two large bears,” Buckrail reported.

“We heard rocks stumble and out of nowhere two grizzly bears just started charging at us,” Chubon told WKMG.

One of the bears then grabbed Chubbon by the back of his leg, he told WESH in a video interview.

“I don’t even know if I would ever even imagine seeing something like that happening in my life,” he told the station. “In probably one of the most poignant moments of all of it, when that bear did have me by the back of the leg, thinking to myself, this is it, this is my death, this is how I’m dying.”

He was able to get away from the bear, though, and he then threw his gun at Uptain — but the gun didn’t make it to him, he told WESH.

“Somehow, the grizzly let me go and charged Mark again and that’s when I made the decision to just run for my life,” Chubbon told the station. He then climbed back on his horse, rode to a mountain to get cell service and called for help, WKMG reported.

Uptain’s body was found Sunday afternoon about a quarter mile away from the attack, the News & Guide reported. His body was intact.

“Mark Uptain passed away in a tragic hunting accident,” a family-friend wrote on his GoFundMe page. “He was doing one of activities he had extreme passion for. An experienced hunting guide in the backcountry of Wyoming.”

He is survived by his wife and five kids, according to the fundraising page.

Idaho Fish and Game provides tips for identifying black and grizzly bears and what to do when you encounter each.