Bowhunter gets mauled by bear in surprise encounter

A hunter who was attacked by a grizzly bear in Montana wasn’t prepared for the second mauling he received online from critics – most of whom saying it was a shame the beast didn’t finish him off.

Bob Legasa, of Hayden, Idaho, was attacked by a female grizzly bear while bowhunting for elk outside of Gardiner, Montana, on Oct. 13. Legasa and his hunting partner, Greg Gibson, surprised the wild animal after walking through tall sagebrush that made it feel “almost like walking in a corn maze,” he told The Post.

“All of us saw each other at the same time,” Legasa said Monday. “The cub, which was about 300 to 400 pounds, reared up on her haunches to get away and she let out a huge growl. The mother then charged from her position.”

Legasa said he and Gibson then screamed maniacally in an attempt to scare the 500-pound bear.

“We just made a lot of noise and kind of stood our ground, but she charged,” he continued. “I was thinking it was going to be a bluff charge, but she did not stop. Basically, she was full bore at me, almost like a football player tackling someone.”

The mother bear then took Legasa’s left arm in her mouth and started clawing at his face, he said. Gibson then used his bear spray to scare the animal off, but not before both men caught some of the chemical in their own eyes, partially blinding them.

“It was the most irritating feeling you could imagine,” said Legasa, who later had surgery for a broken arm and needed stitches to close a nasty wound near his left eye.

But Legasa said his hunting days are far from over, despite his injuries and the unexpected online criticism he received from critics who spotted a Facebook post of his encounter.

“Shame the bear didn’t finish the scumbag off,” one message read.

“If you play with fire, you get burnt,” read another.

In all, Legasa said he received about 14,000 similar messages, mostly from people overseas who expressed disappointment the bear didn’t kill him.

“The backlash that followed was totally surprising,” Legasa said. “Just the vulgarity … it was the nastgiest stuff you could think of, death wishes, you name it, mostly from groups that oppose hunting and the vegan community. On the other hand, I got a lot of support from others. But it was definitely overwhelming.”

All the unwanted attention caused Legasa to change the privacy settings on his Facebook page, but he went back hunting last week with his 23-year-old daughter, who killed her first elk with a rifle, he said.

“It’s just keyboard warriors from behind their desks spewing out nastiness,” Legasa, who had not contacted authorities over the threatening messages, said of his critics. “But if a lot of this came from people in the States, I would have a lot more concern for my safety.”

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