Minnesota man mauled by bear while backpacking in Wyoming

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A Plymouth, Minnesota man suffered severe injuries after he was mauled by bear while backpacking in Wyoming Sunday. 

Bradley Johnson, 48, was backpacking with three friends in the Beartooth Mountains in the Shoshone National Forest when the attack took place. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said Johnson was apparently hiking ahead of the group when he encountered two bears at close range. 

"The encounter happened too suddenly for him to deploy the bear spray he was carrying," according to a release from the department.

Johnson, an Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor, was luckily in the presence of his friend Justin Reid, who is a trained firefighter and EMT. 

According to the Park County Sheriff's Office, two of the friends hiked out to get help while Reid stayed behind with Johnson. 

Johnson was suffering from “severe injuries to his arm, shoulder and back,” the sheriff’s office confirmed. According to Johnson's CaringBridge page, he had surgery to clean up the wounds and look at muscle and nerve damage.

A fellow hiker encountered Johnson’s two friends on the trail and contacted the sheriff’s office at 3:42 p.m. MT, approximately two hours after the attack occurred. 

Rescuers located Johnson by air, but the only suitable place to land the helicopter was approximately one mile from his location. The sheriff’s office said they were able to “stabilize his injuries and carry him to the helicopter.” He was flown to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings, Montana, where he is listed in fair condition. 

Due to limited space on the helicopter, rescuers were forced to leave Johnson’s friend, Reid, behind.

Reid did not want to hike out in the dark, so a ground team from Park County Search and Rescue was deployed to guide him out. The team was able to evacuate him from the area and returned to the trailhead at 2:15 a.m. Monday morning.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is investigating the attack and is working to determine what type of bear was involved.