Grizzly suspected in death of Yellowstone hiker trapped, may be killed

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 10, 2015 1:48 PM

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) - A mother grizzly suspected in the death of a hiker whose partially eaten body was found at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming has been trapped and will be killed if DNA testing proves she was involved in the attack, the park's superintendent said Monday.

An autopsy on the hiker, Lance Crosby, 63, who was in his fifth season working for a firm that operates urgent-care clinics in Yellowstone, was planned Monday to determine the cause of his death, park Superintendent Dan Wenk said.

Crosby, who was from Montana, was reported missing after failing to show up for work Friday morning and later that day a ranger found his body in a popular back-country area off a trail near Yellowstone Lake. Tracks at the site indicated a grizzly sow and at least one cub were likely involved in an attack that caused defensive injuries to Crosby’s forearms, Wenk said.

A grizzly sow was trapped early Saturday morning at the site and another bear or bears may have been captured since, according to a device that showed a second trap in the area had been triggered, Wenk said.

He said the decision to kill any adult bear involved in the incident had set off an outpouring of protests from wildlife advocates.

Public safety is paramount at the park, which sees more than 1 million visitors a year and stretches across more than 3,400 square miles of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, Wenk said.

If one or more cubs are ultimately linked to the death, the park will seek to place them at a facility for captive bears, he said.

The park reported two deadly attacks by grizzlies in 2011, both involving hikers. Prior to that, the last fatal mauling took place in 1986, he said.

Crosby, described as an experienced hiker, did not appear to be carrying bear spray, a form of pepper spray commonly used to repel bears.

The park advises visitors to carry bear spray, stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more and make noise to avoid surprise encounters with grizzlies.

(Laura Zuckerman reported from Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Bill Trott)