BILLINGS — A Wyoming man is recovering after an attack by what officials suspect was a grizzly sow south of Cody, Wyo., early Thursday.

The man was working in an irrigation ditch along Southfork Road when the female bear attacked him, said Alan Osterland, Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional wildlife supervisor.

Nic Patrick, 63, is recovering from injuries sustained during the attack, including severe facial lacerations, said Lee Livingston, who was present near Patrick’s home on Thursday speaking with Wyoming Game and Fish Department staff members.

Livingston, an outfitter and guide who also serves as a Park County Commissioner, said he had heard details of Patrick’s condition from family members, and that his comments were made only as an individual, not as an elected official.

Patrick’s injuries did not immediately appear to be life-threatening, Livingston said.

Patrick’s dog first stumbled into the bear, provoking a protective response from the female grizzly, which had two cubs with her at the time, Osterland said.

Livingston said Patrick had defended himself with a shovel in an effort to fend off the bear.

"It looks like it was a chance encounter," Osterland said. "It was a sow with her two cubs, we think."

Officials received the call shortly before 6:40 a.m. that a private vehicle was driving the man to meet with an ambulance after the attack.

The man apparently managed to make it home after the attack.

Osterland said wildlife officials are searching for the grizzly.

"We're looking for her right now, trying to figure out where she is," he said. "Once we figure that out we'll set some traps and try to catch it and then we'll try to ascertain if there’s any history with this critter."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make the final call on what to do with the bear if it is found, he said.

The general area where the attack happened is a mountain river valley where grizzlies have been spotted before.

"There’s been bears there for a long time," Osterland said. "This is not an area where it's uncommon to see them."

Luke Ellsbury, a large carnivore specialist with Game and Fish said an abundance of green grass along the Upper South Fork of the Shoshone River makes the area attractive to elk, which in turn attracts the bears.

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