GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A grizzly bear mauled a Montana man near Yellowstone National Park on Thursday, and family members confirmed the backcountry guide died from his injuries Saturday morning.
Charles “Carl” Mock IV, 40, was fishing when the large grizzly attacked, likely protecting a food source, park and law enforcement officials confirmed to The New York Times on Monday.
Multiple agencies found Mock following a 50-minute search near the Baker’s Hole campground – about three miles north of West Yellowstone – and transported him to an Idaho hospital, where he was treated for “significant” scalp and facial injuries. He died after suffering a stroke following at least two surgeries, KXLH reported, citing an online fundraiser created by Mock’s friends.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Morgan Jacobsen said Mock was carrying a fishing pole and bear mace when he was attacked, and he was able to call 911 for help, the Times reported.
According to KXLH, wardens with the parks department’s law enforcement division and bear specialists searched the area Friday where Mock had been located and encountered a large, male grizzly bear that charged the group and did not respond to numerous attempts to move the animal from the area using deterrents. The wardens ultimately shot and killed the bear about 20 yards from the group.
Investigators also confirmed that they found a moose carcass within 50 yards of Thursday’s attack, substantiating the food source theory, the TV station reported.
“Bears, and grizzly bears in particular, are very protective of their food source once they’ve claimed it,” Jacobsen told the Times. “If they feel that that claim is under threat, they will defend it, and they’ll stay nearby.”
Backcountry Adventures, Mock’s employer, called his death “heartbreaking” and a “terrible shock” in a Facebook update to news that both of his surgeries had been successful. The company, which provides snowmobile rentals and tours of the park, said that the money raised on the GoFundMe page — more than $31,500 as of Tuesday afternoon — will go to Mock’s family for medical and funeral expenses.
According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone has recorded 44 reports of visitors being injured by grizzly bears among 118 million visits since 1979.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists grizzly bears in the continental United States as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a designation that makes it illegal to “harm, harass, or kill these bears, except in cases of self-defense or the defense of others.”
An estimated 700 grizzly bears were living in the 34,000-square-mile Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – which includes portions of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming – in 2020, a fraction of the roughly 50,000 that roamed North America prior to being placed on the endangered species list in 1975, the Times reported.