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Wyoming hunter shoots self while trying to fight off attacking grizzly bear

The 65-year-old man was released from a hospital Monday, and officials say they are searching for the grizzly.
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A Wyoming hunter was recovering Monday after he shot himself as he was trying to fight off an attacking grizzly bear over the weekend, authorities said.

Lee Francis, of Evanston, was hunting with his son in a western Wyoming area known as Rock Creek, south of Grand Teton National Park, when he fired at the animal about 6 p.m. Friday, according to the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.

Francis "was able to draw his handgun and fired several rounds, which caused the bear to disengage and flee; however, one of the rounds struck Lee in the lower leg,” the agency said.

Francis’ son used a handheld satellite emergency notification device to call for help, sheriff’s Sgt. Travis Bingham said.

A helicopter rushed him to University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where he was discharged Monday afternoon, hospital spokesperson Suzanne Winchester said.

The device his son used, which is sometimes called a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger, sent location coordinates to the Texas-based International Emergency Respond Coordination Center, owned by the GPS firm Garmin. The center notified the nearest first responders.

The son provided first aid to control bleeding before he coordinated a plan to meet rescuers near Water Dog Lake, the sheriff's office said. Francis was taken by horseback to the rendezvous point, arriving about 9:20 p.m., it said.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is investigating the attack and searching for the bear.

It was the second bear attack reported in Wyoming this month. On Oct. 15, a grizzly mauled two college wrestlers hunting in Shoshone National Forest, about 25 miles east of Grand Teton National Park, authorities said.

Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry, sophomores at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, both had surgery in Billings and were expected to make full recoveries, officials said.

Wildlife officials have said there has been "an abundance of bear activity" in the area of the Shoshone National Forest attack, also in western Wyoming.

Residents and hunters have reported six to 10 bears roaming the lower elevations near Cody, it said.

"Game and Fish will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make management decisions in the best interest of public safety," Dan Smith, an agency supervisor, said in a statement.