Katie and Peter Scherfig enjoy a sunny day. Peter was mauled by a grizzly bear on Memorial Day. PHOTO COURTESY PATTY DICKERSON

Benefit fund set-up for mauling victim Peter Scherfig

LONGTIME BIG SKY RESIDENT ATTACKED BY A GRIZZLY BEAR ON MEMORIAL DAY

Before this Memorial Day, violent encounters between man and grizzly bear had not existed for 23 years in the Big Sky area – since the mauling of two people in 1997, according to Morgan Jacobson, Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Information and Education Program Manager, Region 3. The attack happened to long established Big Sky resident Peter Scherfig – a part of the crew who settled in the area in the 1970s.

He has been in critical but stable condition in Billings after what experts currently believe was a “surprise close encounter between the man and the bear and was not predatory,” a Fish Wildlife & Parks press release said.

Scherfig had been riding his mountain bike and was attacked shortly after 1 p.m. on Memorial Day on a trail near the Spanish Peaks area. “This incident is still under investigation, and details of how it played out are still unclear. We know that the nature of certain activities that are deliberately quiet or fast moving, such as hunting, mountain biking and trail running, puts recreationists at an increased risk for surprising a bear. And surprise close encounters with grizzly bears… usually lead to a defensive attack from the bear,” Jacobson said.

He further explained that FWP has seen an increase in human-bear interactions in the Big Sky area “over time as development there has continued.”

Bears habituate – become used to securing easy access to “food rewards” in urban areas “which creates safety risks for people and unnatural behavior in the bears. Many bears in those situations have had to be euthanized.”

The Memorial Day attack occurred due to a surprise encounter and not due to the bear being habituated, he said. “It could have happened to any of us,” longtime friend and Big Sky resident J.C. Knaub said. “It’s tragic.”

Reconstructive surgery for Scherfig will have to take place out-of-state, longtime family friend Patty Dickerson explained – they don't have the capability to do it in Montana.

“He will be going to some major hospital to get cranial facial reconstructive surgery,” she said. “Peter is an extreme athlete, it’s just so heartbreaking to me that he will be stuck in a hospital bed for a long time.” Expenses are piling-up for the family despite his insurance, which has a really high deductible, Dickerson explained.

A benefit fund has been set-up for Scherfig at First Security Bank. According to his wife Katie, anyone can donate at any First Security Bank branch in Bozeman or Big Sky.

Checks can be made-out to: Peter Scherfig Benefit Fund and can be sent to First Security Bank, P.O. Box 160489, Big Sky, MT 59716

A gofundme account has also been established.

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