A man who was a trainer at the Animals of Montana which is a wildlife casting agency was mauled by three grizzly bears on Sunday. Investigation indicates it’s possible he was unconscious before the attack occurred.
Benjamin Cloutier was killed by the large animals at Animals of Montana in Bozeman Montana. However, his co-workers believe that he was unconscious before the bears attack possibly from slipping in the cage and/or hitting his head.
Demetri Price, the lead trainer at the center spoke with ABC News and relayed to them that he did not think the bears are responsible for his death. “We do not believe it was an attack. The victim has been with us since 2008.”
“He was a highly experienced trainer, and it is unlikely that the bears caused his death. He had the right safety equipment and the right training to avoid that kind of attack. The investigators are looking into other causes of death.”
The wildlife casting agency handles animals for photo shoots and motion pictures. Their three star grizzly bears are Adam, Griz and Yosemite. All three of which are described as “highly trained.”
One of their superstar bears, Griz had to be put down in order for the staff to get to Cloutier. Griz is described as a bear that “lived to practice his extensive list of trained behaviors.”
“At the time we found our trainer, Griz had a grip on him. This was a life and death situation where I was putting my safety at risk while trying to save our trainer, who we suspected might still be alive. Our initial abating techniques failed and destroying Griz was our last resort to retrieve our trainer in the safest way.” Price explained.
Price went on to say that, “We suffered a double loss. We lost a very valuable trainer, tragically, and we lost one of our most precious bears. We invested in Griz hours and hours of training and love and care.”
Gallatin County Sheriff Brain Gootkin acknowledged that there was no way to confirm if Cloutier was conscious at the time of the mauling. Gootkin did say that the trainer suffered “multiple bite and claw wounds that hit major arteries”. Cloutier’s death is being listed as accidental.
The Gallatin County Coroner as well as the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks wardens is investigating Cloutier’s death. They are considering the fact that he did not have any defensive wounds on him hands, and arms. It was discovered that he also failed to use a mace-like bear spray he wore on his belt. It is these two facts that lead them to believe Cloutier was unconscious at the time of the attack.
So far, the facility is not suspected of violating any licensing rules or regulations.
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Austin Marriage Examiner
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