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Wildlife experts investigate recent bear attacks

By Stephanie Hale-Lopez
Published On: Aug 16 2013 07:24:37 PM CDT

The attacks put the summer total up to three in eastern Idaho in just over a two week time span.

ISLAND PARK, Idaho -

Four people are recovering after two separate grizzly bear attacks Thursday; both within 50 miles of each other.

Wildlife experts said in both cases, humans entered into bear habitat and the attacks were just the bears reacting.

The attacks put the summer total up to three in eastern Idaho in just over a two week time span.

You may remember a researcher was attacked in late July in the Island Park area as well.

Idaho Fish and Game said this time of year, there are a lot of active bears.

The first attack happened in Yellowstone National Park when a group of four hikers were charged by a mother grizzly protecting her cubs.

Then 50 miles away, two researchers were attacked in Island Park.

"Idaho is bear country," said Gregg Losinski with IDFG. "Black Bears are everywhere and in many areas of the viewing audience, we do have a lot of grizzlies now as well."

The Wildlife Human Attack Response Team was out today, trying to piece together what exactly happened.

"When we were there, we looked around to see what the habitat was like, what occurred and why," said Losinski. "In this case, we found multiple day beds where a grizzly or grizzlies had been resting, not just this year, but for many years."

Day beds are a telltale sign of bear activity.

Experts said avoid areas where there's excavation, a large number of ant mounds, and logs full of grub.

"Unfortunately, if a human comes there when there's a bear then the bear might feel either startled or cornered and react by charging the individual," said Losinski. "In this case, biting, but moving on very quickly."

In both attacks, the victims had been bitten, but the injuries weren't deadly.

All of them were carrying bear spray.

IDFG officials said this time of year, bears are out trying to find food and get ready for fall; so it's important to make a lot of noise when you're outdoors and carry bear spray in a place where you can reach it quickly.

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