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WYOMING MAN SURVIVES MAULING BY GRIZZLY BEAR

A Casper man was mauled by a grizzly bear in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on Tuesday but survived the incident with only severe cuts, according to a Teton County official.

Teton County Sheriff Roger Millward said Clayton E. Peterson Jr., 39, was hunting in an area of the forest known as Davis Hill just outside Grand Teton National Park when he apparently surprised the bear.Peterson, who has a summer home in Pacific Creek, suffered serious cuts in the encounter, Mill-ward said.

"But he's in fairly decent shape for being in an encounter with a grizzly," he said. "He's completely conscious and he's coherent."

Millward said Peterson had been hunting with three other people and had been walking on Davis Hill at the time of the 9 a.m. incident.

Millward said Peterson told authorities he first spotted the grizzly running toward him from about 25 feet away, when he began yelling and waving his arms in an attempt to scare the bear away. The grizzly attacked him, however, breaking his arm and severely cutting his face and arm.

Peterson was in stable condition Tuesday evening at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, a spokeswoman said.

The attack occurred near the site of an attack that nearly claimed the life of a Park City, Utah, man in August and is just one of an unusually high number of encounters between bears and humans seen this year.

A state Game and Fish Department official said district personnel were searching for the bear, which he said has a radio collar.

Reg Rothwell, chief of biological services, said he suspected the bear was mortally wounded when Peterson shot it with his large-caliber hunting rifle from a range of about 8 feet.

"I'm suspecting they would have to dispose of it," he said, adding that bears that attack humans are not always destroyed.

"Our intent . . . is to give them the benefit of the doubt," he said. "You have got to look at the entire situation."

Millward and Rothwell said bears appear to be traveling in search of food more than usual because of continuing drought con-di-tions.

"We're having an inordinate number of bear encounters throughout the valley, both grizzly and black bear," Millward said. "They're hungry and they're looking and they're traveling."

However, the danger is not limited to hunters in the region, Millward said, given the fact that bears have been seen this year in residential areas of the county.