Sublette Examiner | Dentist survives grizzly attack, accidental shooting in the Gros Ventres

BONDURANT — An Evanston dentist is awaiting surgery at the University of Utah Hospital after he shot himself in the leg during a grizzly bear attack over the weekend near the head of Rock Creek in the Sawtooth Mountains of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range. Dr. Lee Francis, 65, “is otherwise doing well,” according to an Oct. 22 Facebook post made by his son, Leeder Francis.
Leeder’s brother, Dr. Josh Francis, also a dentist and owner of Wind River Dental in Pinedale, was elk hunting just east of Bondurant with their father, Lee, just before dusk Friday when the bear attacked. While the attack was underway, Lee Francis drew his handgun and fired several rounds, causing the bear to flee but striking himself in the lower leg, according to Sublette County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Travis Bingham.
At 5:52 p.m., Josh Francis activated his SOS device and administered first aid to staunch the blood flow from his father’s leg wound. With the help of a pack horse, Josh Francis assisted his father back toward Water Dog Lake while Tip Top Search and Rescue (TTSAR) members drove a utility terrain vehicle (UTV) from the Flying A Ranch.
The parties met up in the Big Twin Creek drainage, more than three hours later, around 9:20 p.m., where volunteers rendered additional aid to the injured dentist.
Francis was extracted by UTV from the drainage back to Flying A Ranch where an air ambulance was staged. From there he was life-flighted to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
A TTSAR member accompanied Josh Francis and the horses back to the trailhead.
Wyoming Game and Fish wardens started a search to locate the grizzly bear over the weekend and continued their investigation Monday morning.
The Sublette Examiner reached out to the father-son hunting duo for more information but did not receive a response as of press time.
Friday’s conflict marks the second grizzly bear attack in western Wyoming this month.
While all outdoor enthusiasts should take precautions when recreating in bear country this time of year, hunters and anglers are especially predisposed to bear conflicts due to the nature of their activities. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recommends hunting with a partner, carrying a defense such as a firearm or bear spray and storing game meat, capes, dirty tools and clothing at least 100 yards away and downwind from camp.

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