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Athlete recovering from mauling

Athlete recovering from mauling

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BILLINGS (AP) — A Carroll College student is recovering from a severed hamstring and other injuries suffered when he was mauled by a grizzly bear while bow hunting over the weekend.

Roman Morris, who is a freshman wide receiver on Carroll’s football team, said he was crouched on a hillside north of Gardiner at dawn Saturday when a female grizzly bear walking by turned and attacked him.

‘‘It charged down the hill and just drilled me,’’ said Morris, 21, of Whitewater.

Over the next 30 to 45 seconds, Morris fought with the bear as it bit and clawed, severed his left hamstring, punctured his shoulder, chomped at his head and tossed him around.

‘‘I thought the whole time, This is so messed up. I’m going to die, I’m going to die,’’’ said Morris, a pre-med major.

The bear ran off after a friend fired a pistol. Morris underwent surgery at a Livingston hospital and was recuperating Monday at his brother’s house in Helena.

‘‘I still have a pretty dang good headache from the whole thing,’’ he told The Billings Gazette in a telephone interview.

The doctor told him he can’t put pressure or weight on his injured leg for the next month or so and that it could be about a year before it’s back to normal.

Morris, who was not on the Carroll football team’s traveling squad for Saturday’s game at Montana Tech in Butte, said he and his brother, Mitch, and friend, Josh Love, were bow hunting for elk in the Beattie Creek area north of Gardiner.

They had split up before Morris was attacked.

Morris said as he and the bear slid downhill, he held the bear’s head and pounded away with his fist.

‘‘I put everything I had into it. It didn’t budge at all,’’ said Morris, who is 6 feet, 2 inches, and 205 pounds.

The grizzly put a 2-inch hole in Morris’ shoulder and bit at his head several times, but the slick outer layer on his hooded jacket apparently prevented the bear from clamping down.

‘‘That jacket probably saved my life,’’ he said.

Morris said he tried to play dead, but also kept pushing the bear away as it bit and slapped at him.

Finally, the grizzly tore into his left leg — leaving a deep 9-inch gash — and tossed him, perhaps five to eight feet.

‘‘I don’t know how you can stay still when it sinks its teeth into you,’’ Morris said.

The bear kept picking him up and dropping him. Then the attack stopped.

His friend had fired a shot and the grizzly took off.

Morris and the two others hiked a mile or so to the car.

The attack came just hours before two Pennsylvania hunters shot a grizzly bear in self- defense after bear spray didn’t deter the charging bear.

A section of Yellowstone National Park west of Gardiner has been temporarily closed due to the attack, park officials said Tuesday. The same area of the park was closed from Sept. 14-18 after another bow hunter was mauled by a bear.

The Gallatin National Forest also closed the Beattie Creek and Tom Miner basin areas due to the weekend attacks.

Morris said he doesn’t understand why the bear attacked because he didn’t think her three cubs were under any threat.

In any case, Morris said the grizzly seemed to be doing more than just defending itself.

‘‘It was looking at me like I was an easy meal,’’ Morris said.


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