Recent bear attacks have Utah wildlife officials urging preparedness and caution

Oct 24, 2022, 2:00 PM

A grizzly bear in the snow...

A hunter is recovering in a Utah hospital after being attacked by a grizzly bear in WY. The attack happened on Friday, Oct. 21. (Thomas Hollenhorst /Deseret News)

(Thomas Hollenhorst /Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Wildlife officials are reminding people to be prepared after two recent grizzly bear attacks in Wyoming.

“The last thing you want to do is surprise a bear, you want to let them know you’re coming, ” said James Brower, Regional Communications Manager for the Idaho Fish and Game Upper Snake Region, and head of the regional Bear Aware program.

Brower gave some tips on how to prepare for bear country:

  • bring bear spray and have it within reach,
  • travel in groups of three or more and talk normally to create noise,
  • and travel during the day when bears are less active.

During late October, bears are going through a phase called hyperphagia, during which the bears will eat and drink nearly nonstop. The National Park Service said bears are very active during this time. According to Brower, during hyperphagia bears are trying to consume as many calories as possible.

“So this time of year, grizzly bears can be foraging for food around 20 hours a day. They’re pretty active … trying to find food to last them through those winter months as they head to hibernation.”

The bears will enter a period of hibernation by the end of October or early November when snowfall makes foraging for food more difficult.

And while there are no grizzly bears in Utah, black bears are native to the state. They are not known to kill humans, although encounters with them may become more frequent because of ongoing drought conditions.  The North American Bear Center says most black bear attacks are defensive in nature.

Don’t feed the bears

It is important to remember not to feed grizzly bears, or any bear, at any time of the year. By eating food meant for humans, food that is naturally available to bears can become less preferable.

And, by eating human food, bears can also become more accustomed to humans.

The best practices for storing human food while camping include using a bear canister, closing that canister between each use, and cooking and eating meals 200 feet away from your tent. 

How to protect yourself

Maintaining distance from bears is the best way to prevent an attack. If you happen to see one, change your direction or back away slowly. The bear may notice you and do nothing, and if that is the case keep an eye on it but continue on your way.

Don’t climb a tree or run, the bears can climb and run faster than humans.

If the bear approaches you, stand your ground and speak loudly. Group together with others to appear larger, and throw rocks or sticks at the bear if possible. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says people have successfully fended off bear attacks using rocks, sticks, water bottles, backpacks, and even their hands and feet.

If you are ever attacked by a grizzly bear, Brower says you can attempt to defend yourself by: 

  • laying flat on your stomach and spreading your legs outward (this protects vital organs more vulnerable from the front);
  • covering the back of your neck;
  • flipping back over to your stomach if the bear flips you on your back; and
  • getting help after the bear has left. 

Related reading:


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


A car is filled at a gas pump in Sandy on Tuesday, March 19, 2024....

Adam Small

Experts predict record number of drivers, lower Memorial Day gas prices

Experts have predicted that 43.8 million people will travel this weekend. They could experience lower gas prices.

48 minutes ago

SLCPD emblem at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building....

Devin Oldroyd

SLCPD investigating alleged homicide involving a child

SLCPD is conducting a homicide investigation involving a man and a child. The investigation is ongoing.

14 hours ago

a police car is pictured...

Devin Oldroyd

Two injured following Glendale Neighborhood shooting

A man and a woman were hospitalized following a shooting in the Glendale Neighborhood early Sunday morning.

19 hours ago

South Salt Lake Police Department...

Devin Oldroyd

South Salt Lake Police Department searching for missing, endangered 13-year-old

The South Salt Lake Police Department is looking for missing and endangered Aliah Samora. Police say she may be in West Jordan.

19 hours ago

A Salt Lake City stabbing has led to a man being in critical condition after being stabbed during a...

Kennedy Camarena

One person critically injured in Salt Lake City stabbing

A man is in critical condition after a fight and attempted burglary led to him being stabbed. Police are investigating the incident.

20 hours ago

A photo of the car a man crashed into a crash attenuator on I-15 in an American Fork car crash....

Mark Jackson and Kennedy Camarena

American Fork car crash on I-15 ends in fatality

A car crash in American Fork on I-15 ended in one fatality when the driver crashed into an off-ramp in early Sunday morning.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Recent bear attacks have Utah wildlife officials urging preparedness and caution