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Aug 10, 7:53 PM EDT


Billings man helps free a camper from bear attack

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Jim Walters of Fromberg credits a fellow recreationist for saving his life after a black bear pounced on his tent at a campground in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

"I don't think he ever growled," said Walters, 54. "He just plopped right on top of me. It was quite the wake-up call.

"He didn't claw me. He didn't bite me. He had a hold of me with his arms, and he wouldn't let go of me," Walters continued. "He just wouldn't get off me."

Todd Loomis and his family arrived at the campsite on Bighorn Lake by boat Tuesday morning. His wife, Tammy, spotted a black bear through the willows, and Todd started taking pictures.

But as he walked closer to get a better view, he could see the bear was on top of a tent.

"You could just see the tent jumping up and down," Loomis said.

Walters said he tried rolling toward the tent door, but the bear kept him pinned.

"I was kicking him, punching him. I couldn't get him off me," Walters said.

Loomis started yelling. The bear stood up, looked at him, then moved about 10 feet away to the edge of the campsite.

Walters stuck his face outside the tent, then scrambled out in his underwear.

The men threw some rocks at the bear, and yelled and waved their arms in a standoff that ended when the bear finally walked away.

"That bear was definitely no more scared of us than the man in the moon," Loomis said.

The bear had also torn another, unoccupied tent, in several places.

Walters suffered just a few small scratches, but credits Loomis with saving his life.

"I'm a pretty big guy. I weigh 250," said Walters, a retired contractor. "I feel like I got in a barroom brawl."

When the incident was reported to National Park Service rangers at 6 p.m. Tuesday, they closed the campground.

The Park Service plans to kill the bear, said Cory Manseau, a supervisory ranger who has worked at the recreation area for four years. But, because there are so many bears in the area, they have to observe the bear's aggressive behavior first.

The campground was reopened Friday with caution signs informing would-be campers of the incident and the fact that the bear hadn't been removed yet.

"Almost everywhere you look, there's a caution sign," Manseau said.

Manseau said it's typical to have bears in the area, but "it's not typical for them to do this."

Walters said that the night before the bear pounced on his tent, another bear came through the campground just before dark. The male bear ambled down by the water, about 100 yards from Walters' tent, but caused no trouble.

"You leave them alone, they leave you alone. Those are the rules," Walters said. "This one broke the rules, and he needs to go."
 

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Lucky no one was hurt, and that the bear decided to leave on his own accord so to speak. Sure could have been much worse, glad it worked out for the best.
 

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Bear hug....iff'n I'da been him, the bear'da let go rather quickly...to get away from that awful smell!!!!:D
 

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That's one lucky guy. Sounds like the bear just wanted a playtoy. I'm with Sheepdog, My skivies wouldn't have been tidy-****** no more.
 
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