In the early morning hours of July 28, 2010, at the Soda Butte Campground near Cooke City, Mont., 5 miles east of Yellowstone, a female grizzly and her three cubs attacked three people while they slept in separate tents. Kevin Kammer was killed and partially consumed. The other two mauling victims—Deb Freele and college student Ronald Singer—survived with moderate injuries. The sow was euthanized, and her cubs were placed in a zoo.
Slate spoke with Freele, a 59-year-old retiree and mother of three, about her experience on the night of the attack, how she felt about the decision to euthanize the bear, and why she wants to return to Yellowstone someday.
"I have a bit of PTSD. But I’ve already been camping out in black bear country in Michigan. [Black bears] don’t really faze me too much. I follow all the rules; they behave the way they’re supposed to. The site I was in, there was a family of raccoons and the babies were sniffing around my tent—I thought the chemicals they used to treat it smelled like meat. When these little things were sniffing around my tent, I had a panic attack. The [PTSD] actually comes up when I’m playing this video game called Skyrim. I normally play Call of Duty, and I don’t have a negative response to that. But Skyrim has dragons and sasquatches and things that come at you—that one kicks off that reaction."