Grizzly victim knew risks of living with bears, friends say
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Grizzly bears are part of life in the gateway communities bordering Yellowstone National Park, and backcountry snowmobile guide Charles “Carl” Mock knew well the risks that come with working, hiking and fishing among the fear-inspiring carnivores, his friends said.
Mock was killed after being mauled by a 400-plus pound (181-plus kilogram) male grizzly while fishing alone at a favorite spot on Montana's Madison River, where it spills out of the park and into forested land that bears wander in search of food.
The bear had a dead moose stashed nearby and wildlife officials say it likely attacked Mock to defend the carcass. The grizzly was shot and killed after charging at a group of seven game wardens and bear specialists who returned the next day.
Bear spray residue found on Mock's clothing suggested he tried to ward off last week's attack using a canister of the Mace-like deterrent, considered an essential item in the backcountry. He usually carried a pistol, too, but wasn't on the day he was killed just a few miles north of the small town of West Yellowstone where he lived, according to two friends.
While some outsiders questioned the inherent perils of such a lifestyle in the wake of Mock's death, those who knew him said he accepted the risk as trade-off for time spent in a wilderness teeming with elk, deer, wolves and other wildlife.
“People don't understand that for us who live here, that's what we do every day,” said Scott Riley, who said he fished, hunted, hiked and kayaked numerous times with Mock over the past decade. “When you send your kid out on a bike on a trail, you send him with bear spray.”
West Yellowstone has just over 900 full time residents but gets throngs of summer tourists as one of the main entrances into the park. Spring and fall are the quiet seasons when...