A Montana man mauled by a grizzly bear is doing well, but recovery is still a long way off, family says

The grizzly bear bit off its lower jaw, but the man is doing well in a Salt Lake City hospital.

(Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue via AP) In this photo provided by Gallatin County, Mont., Sheriff Search and Rescue, members of the search and rescue team attach a rope hanging from a rescue helicopter to a basket, the Rudy Noorlander Noorlander was mauled by a grizzly bear on Friday, September 8, 2023, which bit off his lower jaw. The attack occurred in the Custer Gallatin National Forest about 55 miles north of Yellowstone National Park. Noorlander remained hospitalized on Monday, September 11th. His daughter said he is doing well but is expected to be there for surgeries until October.

A Montana man mauled by a grizzly bear that bit off his jaw is doing well in a Salt Lake City hospital but has a long recovery ahead, his family said Monday.

Rudy Noorlander, the owner of a snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle rental business in Big Sky, is “expected to remain hospitalized for surgery until October” after last Friday’s attack, his daughter KateLynn Davis said via Facebook.

Davis said Noorlander helped two hunters who rented ATVs from his company search for a deer they had shot in southwest Montana.

They tracked a deer that was not the one the hunters had shot, and Noorlander spotted a smaller grizzly. He pulled out his gun to scare them away when a larger bear attacked him, Davis wrote.

Noorlander’s gun misfired and he didn’t have time to get his bear spray from his backpack, so he tried to hit the animal “in hopes of slowing it down,” Davis said.

“Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and after the first strike the grizzly was on top of Rudy,” Davis wrote on a GoFundMe page. “The grizzly left a large scratch on his right chest, bit his arms and legs and, to top it off, gave him what Rudy describes as the most disgusting French kiss of his life before biting down and tearing his jaw off. ”

One of the two hunters shot the bear and it left the area, said Morgan Jacobsen, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Wildlife.

Members of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team flew Noorlander from the area and a medical helicopter flew him to the hospital in nearby Bozeman, the sheriff’s office said. After he stabilized, Noorlander was flown to University of Utah Hospital for further treatment, Davis said.

The attack occurred south of Big Sky, a popular vacation area about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Yellowstone National Park. While authorities searched for the bear, the U.S. Forest Service issued an emergency closure in the area.

The grizzly had not been found as of Monday, and no bears had been spotted in the area at all, according to Jacobsen.

Authorities are still investigating, but believe the grizzly bear was protecting a carcass it had hidden nearby.

“Everything indicates that it was a defensive encounter,” said Jacobsen.

The abuse came a week after a female grizzly that fatally attacked a woman near West Yellowstone in July was killed by wildlife officials after the bear and a cub broke into a home near West Yellowstone. Officials say the bear also mauled and injured a man in Idaho in 2020.

Justin Scaccy

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