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Williams survived, and on Nov. 9, 1961 Judge Ralph Freeman, of the U.S. District Court in Detroit awarded him damages of $100,000 on the grounds that the warnings of the danger from grizzlies were inadequate. This precedent-making decision was soon tested again. On July 18, 1960 two ranger-naturalists in Glacier Park, on their day off, hiked from Rising Sun campground to Otokomi Lake and took Smith Parratt, the 10-year-old son of another ranger-naturalist, with them. At the lake they met Gote Nyhlen and Brita Noring, two schoolteachers from Sweden, and all five started back about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
Edomo Mazzer, one of the naturalists, was in the lead, and as he rounded a turn in the trail saw a grizzly with two cubs. He ran back, shouting to the others to climb trees. The bear overtook the boy, knocking him down and mauling him. It then raced after Alan Nelson, the other ranger-naturalist, who had climbed four or five feet into a tree when the bear sank its teeth in his thigh and brought him down. He was stunned, and the bear left him and brought down Miss Noring, who was not high enough in the tree to escape. She screamed, and the bear, holding her by the thigh, dragged her into the brush. It left her, but came back, bit her arm and resumed its attack on the boy. The attacks took only minutes; then the bear vanished. A rescue party, brought by the two uninjured men, got to the site at 7:45 o'clock that night. Smith Parratt suffered puncture wounds in his chest and lost an eye; he was so savagely mauled that he was not expected to live. Brita Noring had severe lacerations on her right leg and shoulder. Alan Nelson was badly bitten on his thighs and knee. Smith Parratt survived—in fact, he became an honors student and was on the track team in high school—after repeated operations and plastic surgery. On October 24, 1966, in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the government agreed to a settlement for $100,000, the case not coming to trial.
Most grizzly attacks are over in a very short time. In a recent incident on the Horsefly River of British Columbia one hunter in a party (not after grizzlies) stumbled on a seven-foot monster. He was armed only with a .30/30 rifle. He shot the bear as it wheeled and charged, shot twice more as he tried to take refuge behind a tree and got in two more shots as it knocked him down and mauled him, wounding him severely before it died with five bullets in it. The entire encounter lasted 35 seconds. In August 1965 Fred Sturdy, an employee in Jasper National Park in Canada, while walking with a girl friend near the lodge, met a grizzly on the trail. The girl fainted, and was not molested. Sturdy suffered compound fractures of the skull and massive lacerations over most of his body. (In the first case of the sort in Canadian legal history, the Exchequer Court is now considering his $75,000 claim.)
In none of these cases did the bears behave like the two in Glacier Park. Telephoned for an opinion, Dr. John Craighead said grizzlies will retreat from man unless they are cornered (or think they are cornered), injured or sick. All authorities agree that grizzlies generally run from people except under a few special circumstances—during the brief breeding season in the late spring, or when a sow is accompanied by her cubs, or when a grizzly is protecting the carcass of an animal it has killed. No one envisaged anything like the long-sustained siege that went on at Trout Lake, or the swift raid into an area where there were many people, as happened at Granite Park Chalet: Ruben Hart, the chief ranger at Glacier, a tall, thoughtful veteran of the Park Service, said, "This whole thing, the coincidence of two attacks at almost the same time, leaves us at a loss." Dan Nelson, the management assistant at the West Glacier Park headquarters, summed up everybody's reaction: "We just don't know.... It is inexplicable." To young Cliff Martinka the catastrophe was doubly depressing. A 29-year-old biologist, formerly with the Montana Fish and Game Department, he had started work for the Park Service at Glacier only two weeks before, to carry on a wildlife study that was to last for three to five years, and now faced the task of killing the bears in the area responsible for the two deaths.
With the other rangers, equipped with .300 Magnums, they searched the area where Julie Helgeson was killed. Late Sunday night they came on a female silvertip. They fired a volley, for an elementary reason. "We didn't want any wounded bears on the loose," Martinka said grimly.
Later that night they killed another grizzly, also a female, and the next morning a third, a sow with cubs. Martinka performed the autopsies on these. The heads of the bears were sent to the veterinary laboratory of Montana State University to be tested for rabies. (The results were negative.) The claws and hides, with traces of matted blood, were sent to the FBI laboratory in Washington, but the blood was found to be that of an animal. Meanwhile another ranger killed a fourth grizzly, also a sow with cubs, near Trout Lake.
But the mystery triggered almost hysterical speculation as to the cause. At the park headquarters, after the bodies of Michele and Julie were taken out, the atmosphere was somber and tense. Lightning storms in a dry season had started 25 fires in the million-acre preserve. If a wind whipped one of them out of control, a holocaust could add the final horror to the dark hours that had passed. The fire-fighting crews of rangers under Keith Neilson, the park superintendent, were embattled and near exhaustion. To add to Neilson's distress, advice, recriminations, demands for details and requests for the reason for the attacks poured in endlessly in telegrams and phone calls. The theories came down to a significant few:
ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES? At first even Superintendent Neilson speculated that the lightning storms might have frightened the grizzlies into a rampage of night marauding. It was also noted that sonic booms in the area might have had an effect.
These theories were quickly knocked down. Dr. Craighead said grizzlies were unaffected by weather. Faye Couey, a local authority with the Montana Fish and Game Department, said, "I never heard a theory based on actual study which would indicate bears are excited to violence by lightning or extended periods of hot, dry weather." EXPERIMENTS? "Was anyone conducting a study of grizzly bears in the area?" asked an internationally known scientist. "They anesthetize the grizzlies with a syringe gun, and when the animal is knocked out they weigh it, measure it and, if they want to determine the age, they pull a tooth...." Do bears remember and resent such experiences? " Bears have some sort of memory," the scientist said. "How long they remember we don't know. But they remember."
But again the answer was no; there were no studies being made. In Washington, officials of the Park Service said they knew of no studies of the bears in Glacier. And at Glacier, Superintendent Neilson said he knew of none. DRUGS? One persistent theory was that the bears had been given LSD or had taken some plant with hallucinating effects. In the first days after the tragedy the park headquarters was flooded with letters speculating that the bears had been drugged with baited food.