Man recovering in Utah hospital after grizzly bear attack in Montana

Sep 11, 2023, 3:18 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2023, 10:15 am

BIG SKY, Mont. — Officials in Montana have closed a portion of the Custer Gallatin National Forest after a man was mauled by a grizzly bear.

The man was identified by family members as 61-year-old Rudy Noorlander.

According to a GoFundMe, family members said Noorlander owns and operates Alpine Adventures in Big Sky and rented out some of his ATVs to other hunters. After hearing that the hunters killed but were unable to find a deer, Noorlander joined the hunters to help them search for it.

While tracking a deer, Noorlander saw one small adult grizzly bear in the area.

“A 10-foot mega bear appeared out of nowhere. He had bear spray. He had a gun in his hand. The bear, he said, from the moment he saw it to when it was on him was one second,” said Katelynn Davis, Noorlander’s daughter. “So he thought, ‘I’ll just fight.’ and that’s what he did. So he tried to shoot. His gun misfired. He tried to punch the bear. He punched it in the nose. And then right after the punch to the nose. The bear locked onto his jaw and ripped his jaw.”

The grizzly bear also gave Noorlander a huge scratch on his chest, collapsed lung, and bites to his arms and thighs.

Fortunately, Noorlander was not alone and the other hunters were able to scare the bear away and call for help. However, since the bears were still in the general area, the first helicopter that arrived had to wait for a second helicopter to assist in keeping the bears away.

Noorlander waited for help for two hours until he was able to be picked up and was taken to Bozeman Health Deaconess Regional Medical Center, where he had an emergency surgery before being flown to the University of Utah Hospital.

Search and rescue crews in Montana transporting Noorlander to a local hospital.

Search and rescue crews in Montana transporting Noorlander to a local hospital. (Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue)

Noorlander is in stable condition.

“To see the strongest person I know is not okay. It’s like horrifying. but he’s so strong that I think his sheer will will push him through this,” Davis said.

Katelynn Davis (left) with her father Rudy Noorlander (right).

Katelynn Davis (left) with her father Rudy Noorlander (right). (Courtesy: Katelynn Davis)

Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act within the contiguous United States. The Montana Department of Fish and Game said as bear populations continue to increase, people may encounter bears in places they haven’t been in decades, “creating a greater potential for conflicts.”

The attack on Noorlander happened just months after a woman was fatally mauled by a grizzly on a trail west of Yellowstone National Park in July.

A GoFundMe for Noorlander can be found here. 

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Man recovering in Utah hospital after grizzly bear attack in Montana