Mark Uptain was the hunting guide dragged into the woods and killed by grizzly bears. The attack happened September 14 in the Teton Wilderness in Wyoming.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Mark Uptain and Client Corey Chubon Were Looking for an Elk They’d Killed the Day Before When the Bears Attacked
Mark Uptain was leading a client, Florida man Corey Chubon, on a hunt. Both were on horseback. Chubon had killed an elk the previous day, and the two men were looking to retrieve it.
Chubon explained to Orlando station WKMG-TV that he suddenly heard rocks tumbling. “Out of nowhere, two grizzly bears just started charging at us.” He showed injuries he sustained to his ankle and arm from where the bears had clawed him.
Chubon explained that the bear was throwing him around. He tried to throw his gun to Mark Uptain, but it didn’t reach him. Chubon managed to escape, then ran up a hill, hoping to get cell service so he could call for help.
2. Corey Chubon Says Mark Uptain Saved His Life
Chubon credits Mark Uptain with saving his life. He explained to WKMG-TV that when the bears attacked him, Uptain was doing everything he could to distract the bears away from his client. “His maneuvers, yelling at the bears, trying to get them away from us, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to escape.”
The bears went after Uptain, dragging him into the woods. His body was found the next day. A memorial service was scheduled for September 19.
Chubon said he and Uptain were in an area that did not have a trail. He explained that it was possible the bears felt there was competition for their food. However, when wildlife officials later retrieved the elk carcass, it was “undisturbed,” meaning it was unlikely that the bears were guarding their food.
3. Mark Uptain Was a Husband and Father to Five Children
Mark Uptain was 37. He worked for Martin Outfitters in Jackson, Wyoming. The company specializes in leading clients on hunts and hiking trips.
The company page includes a tribute to Uptain. It reads, “Words cannot express the tragedy we have just gone through. Mark Uptain, who was my right hand man in the field, my friend, my brother, was surprised attacked in the field by a grizzly while quartering up an elk and sadly did not make it. Mark was a God-fearing man who lived for and loved his family including a wife and 5 kids. I ask that you would keep the Uptain family in your thoughts and prayers and if led to do so, help support the family through this heart-breaking time. We love you Mark and you will be greatly missed.”
A GoFundMe page was also created to support Uptain’s wife and five children. The page explained that Uptain died doing something “he had extreme passion for… Even more then the outdoors Mark loved his beautiful wife Sarah and their 5 amazing kids.” The page raised more than $119,000 within two days.
4. The Two Grizzly Bears Believed to Have Attacked Uptain Were Located and Killed
Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional supervisor Brad Hovinga said officials tracked down the two bears that attacked Mark Uptain and Corey Chubon on Sunday, September 16. He said they matched the description, and were then killed.
Hovinga explained to the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the grizzly bears appeared to have been a mother and her adult cub. He said the animals did not appear to have been acting normally. “The behavior exhibited by these bears is abnormal behavior for a family group. It’s not typically how we would see family groups behave.”
Wildlife experts say bears do not typically attack humans unprovoked. But a mother will get aggressive if she feels there is a threat to her cubs. Grizzly bears will also get territorial if they feel their food is being threatened. But as mentioned above, the elk that Uptain and Chubon had killed was found “undisturbed,” which suggests the bears had not located it.
5. The Grizzly Bear Attack Happened in the Teton Wilderness
The grizzly bear attack happened in the Teton Wilderness, east of Grand Teton National Park. It’s on the south end of Yellowstone National Park. The area has about 450 miles of hiking trails and is popular for hunting and fishing.
The attack happened just before the hunting season for grizzly bears was set to begin. The season was originally supposed to begin on August 30, but a judge suspended it. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen was deciding whether the bears should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. It’s the first time in 40 years that grizzly bear hunting has been halted.