Veteran survives bear attack after animal accidentally bit spray can

Mr Burke after the bear attack
Mr Burke was attacked at Grand Teton National Park

An army veteran survived an attack by a grizzly after it accidentally bit into his can of anti-bear spray.

Shayne Patrick Burke was bitten, clawed and trampled on by the creature while out photographing owls in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.

Mr Burke, 35, noticed a cub a short distance ahead of him before being attacked by its mother in what he later described as “the most violent thing I have ever experienced”.

He had attempted to ward off the bear by shouting and tried using his spray – but did not have time before the animal set upon him.

Instead, Mr Burke threw himself face-first onto the ground and “braced for the ride”, he wrote on Instagram. Still holding the canister, he interlocked his hands behind his neck to protect himself.

Grizzly Bear Portrait
Mr Burke attempted to ward off the bear by shouting and tried using his spray - JeannetteKatzir

He screamed as the bear – female grizzlies can weigh up to 25 stone in the US – stood on his back, biting and clawing his shoulder.

“She bit one of my legs, picking me up and slamming me on the ground multiple times,” Mr Burke said.

“She bit each leg from my buttocks to my inner knee about three times each. The final time I screamed again.

“This, unfortunately – but fortunately – turned her attention to my head.

“I believe she went in for a kill bite on my neck. I still had my hands interlocked and my arms protecting my carotid arteries.”

When the bear attempted to latch onto his neck it inadvertently bit into the canister, which exploded in its mouth and caused it to flee.

Bear repellent canisters often hold capsaicin, an irritant to the eyes and lungs, which can be sprayed in the event of an attack.

Mr Burke, who has been “shot at, mortared and [encountered] IED explosions”, later described the attack as “the most violent thing I have ever experienced”.

Mr Burke in hospital after the bear attack
Mr Burke described the bear attack as 'the most violent thing' he has ever experienced

He made tourniquets to stem the bleeding from a ruptured artery and called the emergency services, but feared he would die as he waited for them to arrive.

“I recorded a short video telling my people that I loved them,” he said.

Mr Burke, from Massachusetts, was eventually transported to the hospital and underwent surgery. Grand Teton National Park said he was expected to make a full recovery after being discharged on Monday.

The army veteran said he did not want the bear to be killed, saying on social media: “I love and respect wildlife.”

Park officials said the bear was acting defensively after a “surprise encounter” and that it would not be killed or captured.