A black bear attacked and injured a recreational rafter on the Green River in eastern Utah's Desolation Canyon -- the second bear attack there in 10 months.
Details were lacking Thursday, but the victim, whose age wasn't known, received a puncture wound on the calf of one leg and superficial scratches on his abdomen. The attack happened around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, when two bears entered the camp set up by a commercial rafting company after being chased out of another campsite nearby.
"The first group had an incident with the bears, which grabbed some food and ripped up some tents," said Derris Jones, regional supervisor of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources' (DWR) southeastern region. "They were able to chase them away, but the bears ran right into the other camp."
Jones said it was not clear what the victim was doing when he was injured by the bear, but that the wounds were not life-threatening.
The outfitter for the raft trip called DWR offices with a satellite phone and the company then called the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the 84-mile stretch of river used by rafters.
The campers planned to float 54 miles to the take-out ramp near Green River rather than use a helicopter to get the man out, since his wounds weren't serious.
Wednesday's incident happened within three miles of where an attack occured last July, said DWR wildlife manager Bill Bates.
Two government trappers from Wildlife Services, a federal predator control agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were flown by helicopter to the site Thursday afternoon to set snares for the two bears and put up warning signs closing the area to river runners.
"Our intent is to [kill] the bears," Jones said. "Whether or not we are successful remains to be seen. Whenever bears demonstrate a lack of fear for humans, and particularly when they attack people, it becomes a public safety issue and we need to remove them from the environment."
Craig McLaughlin, mammal coordinator for the the DWR, called Wednesday's attack "unusual" and "very rare."
"I would view it as a coincidence that it happened in the same area," he said.
"In my personal history with bears, these sort of incidents with campers are often associated with food."