A hiker was killed in Yellowstone last week and his body was found partially eaten.
The suspect? A mother grizzly bear. The hiker was identified Monday as Lance Crosby, who had been working for Medcor, an organization that runs urgent care clinics in the park, according to a National Park Service press release. Wire services say he was 63.
“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,” according to the Park Service.
“While the exact cause of death has not been determined, investigators have identified what appear to be defensive wounds on Crosby’s forearms,” says the Park Service. “DNA evidence was recovered at the scene and will be used to help identify the bear/s involved.”
The NPS says that wildlife biologists set bear traps in the area where Crosby was attacked on Friday evening. One bear was captured that night and was confirmed as an adult female grizzly. If DNA matches what was gathered at the scene, the bear will be euthanized.
“The decision to euthanize a bear is one that we do not take lightly. As park managers, we are constantly working to strike a balance between the preservation of park resources and the safety of our park visitors and employees,” said Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. “Our decision is based on the totality of the circumstances in this unfortunate event. Yellowstone has had a grizzly bear management program since 1983. The primary goals of this program are to minimize bear-human interactions, prevent human-caused displacement of bears from prime food sources, and to decrease the risk of bear-caused human injuries.”
The National Park Service’s bear safety guidelines say that “your safety cannot be guaranteed” and notes that in 2011, two people were killed (in separate incidents) by bears in the park.
The attack happened in the Elephant Back Loop Trail, and the trail and immediate area are closed until further notice.