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Man keeps sense of humor following grizzly bear attack

Posted at 5:43 PM, Sep 12, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A Montana man is recovering in Salt Lake City after being mauled by a grizzly bear while hunting last week.

Rudy Noorlander was helping two hunters who had rented ATVs from his company as they attempted to find a deer Friday. During the hunt, Noorlander spotted a smaller grizzly bear and was trying to scare it away when the larger bear attacked.

Noorlander was airlifted to a hospital in Bozeman before being transported to University of Utah Hospital.

"The whole bottom part of his mouth is gone, teeth, jaw," said Kary Noorlander Lyman, Noorlander's sister.

Lyman describes her brother as an outdoorsman who's always willing to help.

"He just has that kind of attitude, 'It's a good day if I can make someone smile,'" she said.

Lyman says Noorlander told their family that the attack happened within seconds.

"The bear broke part of his throat, so they're putting a plate down in there to stabilize it, then they're putting a plate around his jaw like a headgear-braces type thing, then in about a week-and-a-half they're going to do the major reconstruction surgery where they take the bone out of his leg and reconstruct the chin and everything," she explained.

Noorlander was prepared with bear spray and a gun, but the grizzly's speed hampered the use of both.

"If you're going to carry some sort of bear deterrent with you like bear spray, make sure it's accessible and you're able to pull it out because bears can be very quick and you might not have a lot of warning before they attack," warned Matt Boxmeyer with Gallatin County Search and Rescue.

As of Tuesday, crews were still trying to locate the bear. Once the grizzly is located, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will conduct an investigation.

"They handle what happens to the bear based on the specifics of the attack," said Boxmeyer, "whether or not it was predatory attack or defensive type attack, was it protecting a cub or protecting a food cache?"

Despite the gruesome attack, Noorlander is still making people smile, even without his voice.

"One of the nurses, when he first came in, said, 'We understand you're kissing bears,' and he wrote on [a board], 'Bear french kiss me,' and she said, 'Oh, bad breath?' and he said yes," Lyman said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Noorlander's medical bills.