Investigators Say Grizzly Bear That Mauled Yellowstone Tour Guide to Death Was Guarding Food Source

Backcountry Tour Guide Charles "Carl" Mock, 40, killed in bear attack in Yellowstone in April 2021.

Charles Mock, also known as Carl, described by his peers as “kind and passionate about the outdoors,” was taking photos when he encountered the 20-year-old male grizzly.

Investigators have theorized that the 411-pound grizzly bear who viciously attacked a beloved Montana tour guide at Yellowstone National Park in April was guarding a moose carcass, before the fatal attack, officials said.

The bear was later shot and killed when he charged at a team of wildlife rescuers who returned to the site, according to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park (FWP) news release.

Charles Mock, also known as Carl, described by his peers as “kind and passionate about the outdoors,” was taking photos when he encountered the 20-year-old male grizzly near Baker’s Hole Campground, about 2.5 miles north of West Yellowstone, CBS News reported.

The 40-year-old backcountry guide called 911 just before 3:45 p.m. on April 15. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials, Mock had bear spray on him, but it was unclear whether he was able to use it during the attack, the MFWP release said.

Mock has been on the phone with a dispatcher for nearly an hour as he tried to direct them to his location, CBS News reported.

When help arrived Mock had suffered severe injuries to his head. He was taken by ambulance to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and underwent immediate surgery. Two days later he died from the injuries he sustained from the attack.

Federal, state and local agencies had to investigate the cause of Mock's death. Investigators were unable to speak to him before his untimely death. 

After the attack, a team of seven investigators including Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens and bear specialists, visited the area to further investigate. 

FWP said the team yelled and made continuous noise as they investigated the area. Before they reached the site, officials said the bear began charging at the group. Despite multiple attempts to 'haze away' the bear, he continued to charge before he was shot dead about 20 yards from where the group was standing, according to the release.

Moose hair, cartilage, muscle tissue, along with other tissue that was later determined to be from another grizzly bear, was found inside the bear's intenstines upon evaulation, investigators said.

These findings also suggested that the bear "had possibly been in a very recent fight with another grizzly bear defending the moose carcass or fought taking the moose carcass from another grizzly bear," according to the report, CBS News reported.

The report concluded that  "those interactions could have contributed to [the bear's] overall aggressive defense of the moose carcass" toward Mock, initial search and rescue personnel, and the investigation team." 

A GoFundMe page was set up on Mock's behalf that raised more than $38,000. In April, the family had a celebration of life to honor Mock's life.

"I want all of you to know how much our family loves all of you!! You will never know the burden that was lifted because of each of you. Carl will never be forgotten and his legacy will live on. Again, thank you," said Tiffany Cook, beneficiary of the GoFundMe.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, according to the FWP. 

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