Yellowstone Hiker Dead After Grizzly Bear Attack
A hiker is dead after a grizzly bear attack in Yellowstone National Park.
In initial news releases, park officials stopped short of saying a grizzly killed the man but did say that a bear was “involved” in the death. The man had what appear to be defensive wounds on his forearms. His body was found partially consumed and covered in the area of the Elephant Back Loop Trail near Lake Village on Friday afternoon, the park said in a news release.
“Based on partial tracks found at the scene, it appears that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the incident,” the park said.
The Montana man’s name was not yet released, but park officials did say he was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park. He had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker.
The man was reported missing on Friday morning when he did not report for work. A park ranger found his body in a popular off-trail area he was known to frequent, approximately .5 miles from the Elephant Back Loop Trail. Additional park rangers and wildlife biologists responded to the scene and gathered evidence for bear DNA recovery. The investigation will continue, although heavy rains in the area Friday evening and Saturday morning have made additional evidence recovery difficult. A forensic autopsy is currently scheduled for Monday.
Traps were set for the bears, and if bears are trapped an identified as having been involved in the attack, they will be euthanized.
“We may not be able to conclusively determine the circumstances of this bear attack, but we will not risk public safety,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said in the news release. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim as they work to cope with the loss of someone who loved Yellowstone so very much.”
The Elephant Back Loop Trail and immediate area is closed until further notice. Signs are posted and maps of the closure area are available at park visitor centers.
All of Yellowstone National Park is considered bear country. Hikers are advised to stay on designated trails, travel in groups of three or more people, carry bear spray, be alert for bears, and make noise to help avoid surprise encounters.