A Navy veteran is in critical but stable condition after a grizzly bear took off half of his face in Montana.
The incident occurred on Friday, when Rudy Noorlander, 61, was assisting a hunting party as they searched for a deer.
The hunting party had rented all-terrain vehicles from Noorlander’s business, Alpine Adventures, in Big Sky.
When Noorlander found the deer, it wasn’t the one that the hunters had shot, but the prey of a small grizzly bear.
He tried to scare the predator away with his firearm, but before he had time to react, a different ten-foot grizzly came after him.
Noorlander attempted to get a shot off at the aggressive animal, but the gun misfired. He tried to get a can of bear spray out of his backpack, but it was too late.
He futilely punched at the bear as it lunged and began to maul him, clawing his chest, and biting all four of his limbs.
Noorlander remained fully conscious as a huge bear finally gave him what he described as “the most disgusting french kiss of his life,” and ripped off his lower jaw with its sharp teeth.
The hunting group was able to scare the bear away before it could finish the job, and called 911.
Due to the remote area, first responders came by helicopter, but it was unable to land until a second chopper could join to ward off bears in the area.
Noorlander remained conscious for the entire two hours it took to be airlifted to a local hospital.
He was stabilized by a trauma team, before being once again taken by helicopter to University of Utah Hospital, where he remains in critical, but stable condition.
Noorlander was able to communicate the details of the attack through a whiteboard due to his injuries, according to the Montana Trappers Association.
Their investigation determined that the bear attack was of a defensive nature. This conclusion was drawn after the discovery of a cached animal carcass near the attack site, and the bear involved has not been located.
The area of the attack, situated within the Custer Gallatin National Forest near Big Sky, remains closed to date.
To cover the costs of Noorlander’s healthcare beyond the coverage of his VA insurance, his daughter, KateLynn Davis, has started a fundraising campaign, which has raised more than $33,000 of a $50,000 goal.