A hiker was found dead and partially eaten in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It’s believed that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub were present, and were likely to have been involved in the incident.
Park officials said in a statement that the victim’s body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, in the vicinity of the Elephant Back Loop Trail near Lake Village on Friday afternoon. 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 were likely involved in the incident.
Although the exact cause of death has yet to be determined, investigators said they have identified what appear to be defensive wounds on the victim’s forearms.
The victim was found by a park ranger in a popular off-trail area where he was known to frequent, approximately .5 miles from the Elephant Back Loop Trail. The name of the person has been withheld while family is being notified.
The Montana man has worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons, and was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, a company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park. He was considered an experienced hiker and was reported as missing on Friday morning when he failed to report for work.
Missing hiker found dead in Yellowstone Park, cause being probed:
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, Amy Bartlett, a Yellowstone spokeswoman, said.
Wildlife biologists have set bear traps in the area.
If bears are trapped and identified as having been involved in the attack, they will be euthanized, she added.
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.
“We may not be able to conclusively determine the circumstances of this bear attack, but we will not risk public safety,” said Yellowstone National 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.”
Yellowstone National Park: Bear safety:
According to CNN, the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem was estimated to be to between 674 and 839 in 2014, according to the National Park Service. Park regulations state people must stay 100 yards away from bears.
Encounters like this are rare in national parks, with only four fatalities being reported from 2010 to 2014. People who visit the park are advised to carry bear spray, and to also travel in groups of three or more.