Autopsy confirms grizzly killed Yellowstone hiker

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 30, 2011 11:21 AM

CODY, Wyoming (Reuters) - An autopsy of the hiker found dead on a popular trail in Yellowstone National Park last week confirmed the man was killed by a grizzly bear, park officials said on Monday.

The body of John Wallace, 59, who was visiting the park from Chassell, Michigan, was discovered on Friday morning by two other hikers along the Mary Mountain Trail, but it was not clear before the autopsy was performed how he died.

The fatal mauling comes a month after a female grizzly attacked and killed a hiker who encountered the animal and her two cubs as they were foraging for food, marking the first fatal bear mauling in Yellowstone since 1986.

Bear managers opted not to capture or kill that grizzly because they concluded it had been acting in a purely defensive -- as opposed to predatory -- manner and had no previous history of conflicts with humans.

A park statement said the investigation of the latest incident was continuing, but it did not say whether the grizzly involved has been identified or whether park rangers would capture or destroy it if found.

The park euthanized a 4-year-old male grizzly earlier this month after that 258-pound animal charged a man sitting on a hiking trail near Yellowstone Lake.

That hiker was unhurt but the bear involved was determined to pose a hazard to park visitors because of previous encounters.

(Reporting by Ruffin Prevost and Laura Zuckerman; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jerry Norton)