Grizzly Bear Kills Longtime Hiker in Yellowstone Park, Officials Say

August 9, 2015 Updated: August 9, 2015

A grizzly bear likely killed a hiker in Yellowstone National Park last week, officials said on Sunday.

Investigators said the exact cause of death was not found, but they added that the hiker appeared to have defensive wounds on his arms.

The victim, whose name was not given, was found “partially consumed” near Elephant Black Loop Trail, near Lake Village, on Friday, the National Park Service said in a statement.

“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 National Park Service said.

The man, from Montana, was described as a veteran hiker who had worked for urgent-care clinics in the park.

In this July 2012 photo provided by Roy Wood and explore.org, a group of bears are seen at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The stars of a widely popular Internet series are ready for their second season. The stars in this show are the grizzly bears of Katmai National Park, and they will be coming to a small screen near you with more cameras and different angles as they fight to get a bounty of salmon before winter sets in. (AP Photo/Roy Wood and explore.org)
In this July 2012 photo provided by Roy Wood and explore.org, a group of bears are seen at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The stars of a widely popular Internet series are ready for their second season. The stars in this show are the grizzly bears of Katmai National Park, and they will be coming to a small screen near you with more cameras and different angles as they fight to get a bounty of salmon before winter sets in. (AP Photo/Roy Wood and explore.org)

Tracks from a female grizzly and at least one cub were found on the scene, officials said, according to the Missoulian.

“We may not be able to conclusively determine the circumstances of this bear attack, but we will not risk public safety,” said park Superintendent Dan Wenk. “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 National Park Service said Elephant Black Loop Trail was closed after the body was found.

“All of Yellowstone National Park is considered bear country,” the agency said. “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.”

A grizzly bear and her cub are seen near Trout Creek at the Yellowstone national park, July 1964. (Bryan Harry/Yellowstone National Park).
A grizzly bear and her cub are seen near Trout Creek at the Yellowstone national park, July 1964. (Bryan Harry/Yellowstone National Park)

Bear attacks in Yellowstone Park are considered rare, with an average of one attack taking place per year. Since 1980, 43 people have been injured by bears. And only seven people have been killed by bears in the park since it opened in 1872, the Missoulian noted.

On Friday, wildlife biologists set traps in the area. If the bear is trapped and linked to the attack, it could be euthanized, the statement said.

Between 674 and 839 grizzly bears are believed to roam around Yellowstone. Park regulations say that people must keep 100 yards away from bears.

The attack is the first human-bear encounter in Yellowstone in 2015, CNN noted. There, however, have been five bison attacks, which have resulted in injuries and no deaths.

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