Former Marine, 66, Goes Hand-to-Claw With Attacking Bear!

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

 Aug. 19, 2015
A 66-year-old Vietnam Vet is on the mend after going hand-to-claw with a 200-pound black bear in a bloody fight outside his home near California’s Yosemite National Park last week. You’ll also read what happens when someone exceeds their limit of fish in Minnesota – by 676 – and much more!

Marine Bears Down With Bruin
As a Marine combat veteran, Purple Heart recipient and career wildland fire fighter, Larry Yepez (pictured above after the bear attack) knows how to put up a good fight. But, until last week, he’d never tangled with a wild and aggressive black bear.

Here's a photo of Larry Yepez from when he was a Marine combat veteran and won a Purple Heart.
Here’s a photo of Larry Yepez from when he was a Marine combat veteran and won a Purple Heart.

The bear, estimated to weigh 200 pounds, attacked Yepez a few feet from his front door in Midpines, a mountain community in Mariposa County, California, just after 4 a.m. Thursday. Yepez said he left his home to use his detached restroom when he spotted the animal.

“The bear started to run towards me, so I yelled at it,” Yepez said. “I worked for the (U.S.) Forest Service — that’s what you do.”

Yepez retired from the Forest Service in 2002 after 25 years as a firefighter.

“I hit him with a plastic flower pot from my porch as he ran towards me,” Yepez said. But the bear was undeterred, and it took the 66-year-old to the ground. He first started punching the animal with his right hand. When he switched to his left, the bear grabbed onto his hand.

“I could hear something crunching as he had a hold of my hand,” he said. “His eyes were 6 inches away from mine. That’s when he ripped into my face and neck.”

As he bled heavily from his legs, arms, face, and stomach, the adrenaline subsided just long enough for Yepez to realize he was badly injured. He made a break for his van, and quickly drove the 9.4 miles to the nearest hospital in Mariposa.

Traps have been set up to catch the bear, but at last report, the animal has remained elusive, said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Chris Stoots.

676 Fish Over Limit Could Net Thousands in Fines
Six licensed anglers from Indiana face nearly $3,400 in restitution and fines of around $1,000 each after they were found with 676 fish over the limit on a Minnesota lake in July.

A Turn In Poachers (TIP) call on July 2 led conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to two cabins on Upper Cormorant Lake where the anglers had hundreds of crappies and sunfish. The legal limit is 10 crappies and 20 sunfish in possession per angler.

Charged with misdemeanor fishing violations in Becker County were Clifford Emmons, 78; Anthony Emmons, 54; Gregory Emmons, 58; Ryan Emmons, 32; Chad Wright, 42, and Amanda Wright, 40, all of Bedford, Indiana. They are scheduled to appear in court on August 31.

“This is a real loss for the people who enjoy fishing Becker County lakes,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement director. “These community fishing waters provide anglers a close-to-home place to fish. It’s vital that people obey the rules so there are plenty of fish for everyone to catch.”

Colorado Woman Arrested For Serial Bear Feeding
A Colorado Springs woman was arrested last week and agents with Colorado Parks and Wildlife have trapped and euthanized at least one animal among the six they say frequented her home looking for a handout.

After numerous warnings and citations that span multiple years, including a court order, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Springs Police Department arrested Jo Ann Medina, 62. Agents placed Medina’s property under surveillance last week and found a half-dozen bears regularly stopped by for easy meals from the woman, said agency spokesman Matt Robbins.

“It’s not only illegal, it’s extremely dangerous,” he said. “Bears can become aggressive around food and they lose their desire to forage.”

An arrest affidavit indicated a neighbor’s camera caught Medina serving breakfast to an “extremely large” bear on her deck August 2.

Medina, who faces a misdemeanor charge of luring bears, is scheduled to be arraigned August 26.

Luring and feeding bears is barred by a state law, but arrests for the practice are extremely rare. The law provides that first-time offenders get a warning, and most repeats result in fines.

California Bans Bobcat Trapping
California has become the first U.S. state to ban all commercial and regulated trapping of bobcats following the state’s Fish and Game Commission approval of the proposal in a contentious 3-2 vote last week.

A 2013 state law ended bobcat trapping adjacent to national and state parks, a reaction to incidents of illegal trapping near Joshua Tree National Park. The new measure does not impact other forms of trapping, and commissioners have stated their willingness to revisit the decision if new population surveys of bobcats are conducted. California bobcat population estimates have not been gathered since 1979.

The director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Chuck Bonham, took issue with that logic, as did the California Trappers Association.

“Bobcats are the most widespread and adaptive carnivores in the state next to coyotes,” Bonham told the commission before the vote. “There is no evidence that a ban on bobcat trapping is needed to protect bobcat populations.”

Hector Barajas, a spokesman for the trappers association, noted in an interview that when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bobcat law, “he wanted the commission to develop the science to implement it properly. Two and a half years later, they still haven’t done that.”

Quote of the Week
“I’d rather go to hell in a boat than to heaven by any other means of transportation.”
– Louise Dickinson Rich,
“Happy the Land,” 1946

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at






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