Yellowstone Park Grizzly Attack 

Sept. 2, 2002 

at about 10:30am


She was thirty feet away and in full charge as we came to the edge of the ridge. With a cub on both sides and another behind, the earth was flying as she closed the distance. I ran ten feet to my friend while I yelled "We've got a grizzly! She has cubs! Don't run! Hit the deck!” As I landed and grabbed my fanny pack around my neck, she grabbed my calf in her mouth and shook. I was fumbling for the pepper spray on my belt, wondering if I should be just staying still.  When she shook me, I yelled out. That brought my friend Nils up on to his knees, which distracted the bear off of me. She ran ten feet to check on her cubs, then turned and charged Nils. He now had his UDAP Pepper Spray out and ready. He fell back to his stomach and waited until the head-on charge closed to five feet. Propped up on his elbows he let her have it right in the face. GONE, DONE, NEVER SEEN AGAIN! The spray stopped the charging female grizzly on a dime and sent her away for good. Nils called out to me, "I got her Tom, and I got her good!" 

The bear had broken my fibula, paralyzed a nerve in my leg and left me with two large gashes in the back of my calf.  After Nils put a pressure wrap on my wounds, we bushwhacked for three miles to get back on the trail. Luckily, we had left emergency supplies at the point where the boat had dropped us the day before. I am a veterinarian and I had brought a large first aid kit including antibiotics. We were still three miles from our campsite and nine miles from a road and I could no longer walk. Nils built an emergency shelter and fire for me. It drops to the low thirties in September at Yellowstone and the wind off the lake was impressive. It was twenty-two hours between attack and rescue.

Next week, I will have a third surgery on the leg, in an attempt to repair the nerve that controls lifting my foot and toes. Whether the surgery is successful or not I will be back to the Yellowstone backcountry. Next trip I will carry two cans of UDAP Bear spray. I will look into the Chest Holster for even more accessibility.  Next time my spray will be out quicker.

Nils and I want to thank Mark and UDAP for saving both our lives.  My family and Nils’ wife and daughters think you are pretty cool too. Thank you for producing a quality product. Thank you also for contacting me in the hospital to lend moral support. It meant a lot to me.


Thanks again,

Tom Crosson, Nils Wygant