EASTERN UTAH (ABC4 News) A biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources has been released from the hospital following a scary incident after accidentally injecting himself with bear tranquilizer Monday afternoon.
The biologist was with six other DWR personnel visiting bear dens in a remote area of Book Cliffs in eastern Utah to check on the conditions of the bears and look for cubs when they came across a female bear who had given birth to two cubs during the 2015-2016 winter.
“We were curious to see if the cubs had survived,” says Dax Mangus, regional wildlife manager for the DWR.
“We successfully darted the collared female and noticed one yearling bear also in the den with her,” Mangus said. “We loaded another dart, and were ready to dart the yearling, when the dart accidentally discharged and struck the biologist in his hand.”
DWR agents are specially trained to handle situations exactly like this. Five of those traveling with the biologist had just completed the agency’s annual wildlife chemical immobilization training just two weeks ago.
“We acted on our training,” Mangus said. “We noted the time of injection, the dosage received and then we started monitoring his condition. We knew we had only 15 to 20 minutes before he possibly lost consciousness, so we knew we had to act fast. We didn’t have any cell service. And, in the steep, timbered canyon, we knew we couldn’t safely land a medical helicopter. So, we made a plan.”
Two of the team members headed to get the vehicles, the biologist and two others went to the top of the ridge to get cell service and call for help and two stayed and gathered up all their equipment.
The biologist was able to make it to the top of the ridge before he started to get weak. Just before 3 p.m. the helicopter arrived and the biologist was taken to Utah Valley University where he stayed overnight. He was released on Wednesday.
“We feel fortunate that we were able to develop a quick response to the incident and get appropriate medical help in a timely manner, despite being in such a remote location,” Mangus said. “We’re so happy that he’s going to be OK. He’s an awesome co-worker and a great friend.”