Written by Ashton Snyder on
 May 27, 2024

Massachusetts Veteran Recounts Harrowing Bear Attack in Wyoming Wilderness

A 35-year-old disabled Army veteran from Massachusetts has survived a terrifying encounter with a grizzly bear in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.

Daily Mail reported that Shayne Patrick Burke was attacked while photographing wildlife, saved only by a lucky accident with bear spray.

Photographer's Encounter Turns Perilous in Moments

On Sunday, Shayne Patrick Burke was searching for a Great Grey Owl to photograph on Signal Mountain, located in Grand Teton National Park. After spending about an hour in the area, Burke encountered a bear cub, shortly followed by a charge from the protective mother grizzly.

Reacting quickly, Burke attempted to deploy his bear spray. However, the mother bear closed the gap too fast, and when she bit into the bear spray canister, it exploded in her mouth. This fortuitous burst likely saved Burke's life in those critical moments.

"I unholstered my bear spray and saw the mother bear charging," he recounted. "As she bit my hands and the back of my neck, she simultaneously bit the bear spray can, and it exploded in her mouth."

Heroic Maneuvers and Harrowing Ordeal

Despite the bear spray explosion, Burke sustained serious injuries during the attack. The grizzly gnawed on his hands, legs, and the back of his neck. Summoning his survival skills, Burke managed to escape, though not without significant effort and pain.

"She bit one of my legs, picking me up and slamming me on the ground multiple times," Burke remembered. "Each leg from my buttocks to my inner knee was bitten about three times each."

After creating some distance between himself and the bear, Burke called his wife. When the call didn't go through, he sent a brief text saying "attacked." He then applied improvised tourniquets to his legs and called 911.

Swift Rescue Efforts Lead to Stabilizing Condition

A helicopter was dispatched to locate Burke, eventually transporting him to St. John Hospital in Jackson for emergency surgery. Despite the severity of his injuries, Burke is now in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

“Through the phone call with 911, the helicopter was able to triangulate my location since the service wasn’t providing an accurate position,” Burke noted. During this time, he recorded a short video for his loved ones, fearing he might not survive.

Reflecting on the experience, Burke stated, "I was in the 'wrong place at the wrong time.'" He continued, "What happened up on Signal Mountain was a moment of sheer brutality and miraculous survival."

The National Park Service has decided not to capture or euthanize the female grizzly, determining her actions were consistent with natural protective behavior over her cub. An investigation into the incident and Burke's recovery remains ongoing.

Burke concluded by expressing his deep respect for wildlife and an understanding of the grizzly bear's instincts to protect its young, emphasizing that the attack he endured was an unfortunate coincidence of timing and location.

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About Ashton Snyder

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