A Montana hiker was partially eaten in an incident that may have involved a mother grizzly bear and its cub.
Yellowstone National Park has announced that a hiker has died in the park after apparently coming across a mother grizzly bear and at least one cub.
The partially-eaten male victim was discovered by a park ranger Friday in an off-trail area of the Elephant Back Loop trail near Lake Village. The statement further describes that the victim’s body was “cached,” or covered and presumably saved for later by the bear.
The victim’s name has not yet been released, but he is described as being a seasonal clinic employee from Montana.
“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,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk.
The statement further describes the victim as a five-year seasonal employee with one of the park’s urgent care clinics and an experienced hiker. The statement did not report whether the victim was carrying defensive bear spray or not.
The park reports the man was officially reported missing Friday morning when he failed to show up for work.
While the cause of death has not yet been determined, the park reports the victim appeared to have defensive wounds his forearms. Tracks found by rangers at the scene have led them to the determination it was likely a sow grizzly and at least one cub involved.
Biologists and rangers were on the scene attempting to gather DNA evidence to hopefully identify the bear responsible, but were hampered by heavy rains Friday and Saturday.
The Elephant Back Trail and surrounding areas have been closed until further notice as the investigation continues.
“We may not be able to conclusively determine the circumstances of this bear attack, but we will not risk public safety,” Wenk said in the statement.
Rangers are now also attempting to capture the animals responsible in the incident. Bear traps were set out on Friday evening. If caught, the bears will be euthanized.
An autopsy and official release of the victim’s name is scheduled for Monday.
The park is using the incident to remind hikers all of Yellowstone 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,” the statement concluded.