By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A West Yellowstone, Montana, man was ultimately found to be at fault for causing the fatal grizzly attack that resulted in his death earlier this year.
Charles “Carl” Wesley Mock, 40, was attacked by a grizzly bear on April 15 near the Baker’s Hole Campground, just outside of Yellowstone National Park two miles west of the Wyoming state line. He was alone and parked his vehicle at the campground entrance, both of which are well-posted with grizzly information.
A report on an investigation into the attack by officials from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana was released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The tragic event of Mr. Mock being attacked by an adult male grizzly bear and subsequently dying from the attack, was the direct result of Mr. Mock’s own purposeful or random placed proximity to a moose carcass that an adult male bear had cached and was actively feeding on,” the report said.
“A short time before the adult male bear attacked Mr. Mock it may have defended or claimed the moose carcass from another grizzly bear. If so, this would have contributed to the bear’s extended aggressive defense of the moose carcass,” the report said.
Mock died two days after the attack from complications due to his severe head and neck injuries.
Officials couldn’t say whether Mock purposely went to the site of the attack. He was in possession of fishing gear and a telephoto lens, and the closest point to the Madison River is about 400 yards northeast of the attack site.
An examination of Mock’s fishing gear showed he hadn’t been actively fishing at the time the attack occurred.
It is estimated Mock was in the area for less than 90 minutes, but it can’t be determined exactly how long he’d been at the site before being attacked. It also isn’t clear whether Mock came upon the animal feeding or if he was already at the site and the grizzly happened upon the moose carcass.
An empty cannister of bear spray was found at the scene and the bear carcass’ hair contained bear spray residue, so officials did determine Mock was definitely aware of the potential for grizzly encounters in the area. It is unclear at what point during the attack (if not before) Mock used the bear spray.
While the overall effects of the bear spray on the grizzly aren’t known, the bear did quit attacking Mock at some point. Mock moved away and called 911, but the bear remained agitated, close to the attack site and the moose carcass.
The grizzly was killed April 16 as it charged the investigation team.
“The unfortunate subsequent death of Mr. Charles (Carl) Mock caused by a grizzly bear attack…reinforces the inherent possibility of people being involved in a serious grizzly bear encounter and the need for individuals to know and try to follow known safety recommendations,” the report said.