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Camper hurt by black bear near St. Regis

| June 24, 2010 9:00 PM

A Washington man was injured early Monday morning by a black bear that bit through the side of his tent while camping in Mineral County, just southwest of St. Regis.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) wardens who investigated the scene, Rob Holmes, of Ellensburg, was awakened from his sleep at around 4:30 a.m. when he felt an animal bite his ear from outside his tent. The animal ran off without being seen.

Twenty-one stitches were required to close the injury to Holmes's ear lobe.

Although no tracks were visible, the wardens were able to inspect bite marks in the tent, and found similar bite marks in canned food at a nearby abandoned camp site.

"He did everything right," Jeff Darrah, FWP Warden Captain in Missoula, said. "He kept a clean camp and did not place himself at risk. Unfortunately, food and other attractants that were abandoned at another nearby camp likely drew the bear in."

The primitive U.S. Forest Service campground, located about two miles up Little Joe Road, will be closed until further notice while officials attempt to capture and remove the bear.

"If we can capture the offending animal, we plan to euthanize it," said Mack Long, FWP Regional Supervisor. "We don't like to leave a food habituated bear out there that could potentially pose a risk to future campers in the area."

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