On July 9, Tom Whitney faced death as he was mauled by what he exclaimed to be a “350-400” pound grizzly bear.
Whitney was running Island Park, Idaho when the father of three girls made eye contact with a grizzly bear. According to East Idaho News, Whitney exclaimed that after he had made eye contact, the animal charged at him. Tom claims he had to decide very quickly whether to run, climb a tree or make noise. Whitney ended up placing himself between two trees, hoping to trick the bear. Unfortunately, the bear was not so easily fooled, so Whitney resorted to playing dead. While acting unconscious, Whitney stayed in the fetal position with his arms around his head and neck. Although he was now safer than before, the bear continued to claw and scratch at Tom.
Tom claims the bear’s cubs stayed far away from the attack. As stated by Outside, one of the most common reasons for grizzly attacks is the protection of cubs. If a mother grizzly feels threatened at all, she will attack to protect her cubs. This could’ve been the reason for Tom’s attack, as the cubs were in proximity.
Overall, Whitney’s injuries consisted of puncture wounds from the animal’s teeth and claws.
Idaho Fish and Game officials strongly suggest not to run in the presence of a bear, as it can trigger the bear to attack you. They also recommend carrying bear spray and being aware of how to use it.
Luckily for Whitney, he was in the ideal position when getting attacked by the bear: fetal position with hands on his head and neck. Idaho Fish and games Spokesman, Roger Philips claims that the bear will most likely take a couple of sips before leaving the victim. Once the bear leaves, it’s best to wait a while so it doesn’t come back immediately.
Tom Whitney can’t believe he escaped the attack and understands the bear was just doing its duty and protecting its cubs. “Luckily, they don’t plan on trapping it or putting it down, which really makes me happy. … I was there on its territory. … It was the perfect recipe that could have been a fatal encounter … I just can’t say it enough: I’m very fortunate,” claims Whitney.