Hiker Killed by Yellowstone Grizzly

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 7th, 2011

There are several reports of Bigfoot being seen or heard in Yellowstone, and folks are tempted to go there in search of Sasquatch. If you do, please be careful of the grizzlies. The first fatal grizzly bear mauling in Yellowstone National Park in 25 years has occurred. The presence of grizzlies in Yellowstone has increased in recent years.

Recent sightings from Yellowstone are mentioned at the BFRO site:
July 2002 (Class A) – Noon sighting by family of four near Mount Washburn, Yellowstone National Park
July 2002 (Class A) – Noon sighting by family of four near Mount Washburn, Yellowstone National Park
July 2000 (Class B) – Driver sees bipedal creature in headlights near Yellowstone hot spot
July 2000 (Class A) – Day hiker sees large, hairy animal which seems to follow him
November 1997 (Class A) – Sighting near Yellowstone Park entrance by two witnesses cutting wood
July 1997 (Class A) – Sighting by a motorist near the park entrance approach from Cody
May 1978 (Class A) – Two gov’t geologists witness hominoid creature cross road about 30 min. east of Yellowstone Park’s East Gate
October 1980 (Class B) – Memory told of heavy, bipedal running heard while camping in Yellowstone National Park
1970s-1980s (Class A) – Yellowstone backcountry ranger describes sighting, other incidents

In this May 4, 2009 file photo, a grizzly bear walks across a road near Mammoth, Wyo., in Yellowstone Park. Yellowstone’s grizzlies are going to be particularly hungry this fall, and that means more dangerous meetings with humans in a year that is already the area’s deadliest on record. Scientists report that a favorite food of many bears, nuts from whitebark pine cones, is scarce. So as grizzlies look to put on some major pounds in preparation for the long winter ahead, scientists say, they will be looking for another source of protein – meat – and running into trouble along the way. (AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, David Grubs, File)

On July 6th, a hiker was killed by a grizzly.

A visitor to Yellowstone National Park is dead after an encounter with a grizzly bear on Wednesday morning. The incident occurred on the Wapiti Lake trail, which is located east of the Grand Loop Road south of Canyon Village.

The husband and wife couple had traveled about a mile and a half in on the trail the morning of July 6, 2011, when they surprised a grizzly sow with cubs.

In an apparent attempt to defend a perceived threat to her cubs, the bear attacked and fatally wounded the man. Another group of hikers nearby heard the victim’s wife crying out for help, and used a cell phone to call 911.

Park rangers were summoned and quickly responded to the scene.

“It is extremely unfortunate that this couple’s trip into the Yellowstone backcountry has ended in tragedy,” said Dan Wenk, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. “Our heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim as they work to cope with their loss.”

The name and hometown of the victim are being withheld pending notification of family members.

A bear warning sign is posted at the Wapiti Lake trailhead, since it is one of the access points to the Pelican Valley area, known for significant bear activity. However, there had been no reports of bear encounters along or near the Wapiti Lake trail this season. There had been no recent reports of animal carcasses along or near the trail. No research trapping of bears has been conducted in Yellowstone National Park this season.

The last fatal grizzly attack in Yellowstone was in October 1986, when the mauled body of a man was found by the road near Otter Creek. A camera and tripod were nearby, causing park officials to conclude that the man was attacked while he was photographing a grizzly.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

11 Responses to “Hiker Killed by Yellowstone Grizzly”

  1. Carumba responds:

    Tragic. Bear spray, $40, sporting goods store. It beats going to places like Yellowstone, Glacier, etc. with just a walking stick in your hand. IMO, Yellowstone is crowded, insufficient restrooms with long lines, people going up to the bears on the road, people walking backward into the road to get better pictures, etc. It’s a madhouse in the summer. I will be checking out–with camera in hand in case Bigfoot shows up–King’s Canyon, Sequoia, Mammoth Lakes, and hopefully Yosemite in CA this early fall. If I get the pic, I’m posting it here and nobody better say it ain’t so!

  2. Hapa responds:

    I hope they do not kill the mother bear: she was doing what mother bears do, protect their cubs. You shouldn’t condemn an animal for caring for and watching over their offspring.

    Now since people can spook bears with cubs, and other animals would no doubt do the same, It makes me wonder what would happen if a Sasquatch surprised a Mother Grizzly with cubs: Would it retreat, or would it fight the bear off and go after the cubs the way ultra-hungry or determined Male Bears do on occasion?

  3. Hapa responds:

    If Sasquatch are anything like gorillas, a male might stand his ground and fight a mother Grizzly if it surprised one, much like in the scenario portrayed in the show animal face off where a Gorilla encounters a Leopard with cubs. No doubt such incidents occur in the wild in Africa.

  4. Know it all responds:

    Their are reports that Sasquatch are aggressive toward grizzly bears as grizzly bears do prey on Sasquatch young.

    On Topic though, the flip side is DNR/Feds are reported to be instructed to “officialy” note cases of hikers & campers being found mangled, mauled or partially eaten by what appears to be a large carnivore/omnivore as “bear attack”…. even when it wasn’t a bear in certain instances.

    The best grizzly and other large Carnivore/Omnivore (grin) defense is no field work at seasons when cubs are most likely, making noise (but that would be self defeating for field work), keep groups to 3 or more in size, NO menstruating women, bear spray hand held devices, high power paintball machine guns firing capscium pepper powder balls, and have the most powerful back-up firearms you can (legally) carry with minimally expanding bullets.

    That goes for cougar, escaped large cat exotics, large raptor, wolf, coyote, coy-dog hybrids & feral dog packs too.

  5. 4Js responds:

    I live near Yellowstone. I was there three weeks ago and got some excellent pictures of a large male grizzly.

    There is still a lot of snow above 8,000 feet, causing the bears to go to lower elevations to find food. A large part of their summer diet is moths, and the rock slopes where the moths congregate are still snow covered.

    The situation is very similar to last year when there were three fatal grizzly encounters in the areas just outside of the park.

    I was planning on having some trail cameras set up in the Absaroka back country by now. But the snowmelt has the streams running too high right now.

  6. Opalman responds:

    The issue of bear attacks is an oft neglected discussion that must be addressed by the sasquatch research community or, for that manner anyone hiking in remote wilderness locations. This is the very topic for which Matt Moneymaker and /or Barrackman banned me from the BFRO discussion board. Yes: Incredibly, because of my honest concern for enthusiast safety MM choose to ban me from the discussion board in spite of the fact that most of what I wrote to them was off-board in a private e-mail, courteous and well written.
    My background as a hunter has permitted me great opportunities to learn much about bear behavior and particularly the subject of bear / human interaction. I won’t go on and on about bears nor my experience other than to point out a few facts that might otherwise not be considered. I wholeheartedly recommend Stephen Herraro’s book; “Bear Attacks, their Cause and Avoidance”. Herraro has done an excellent job in treating the subject with scientific and historical fact. Anyone entering bear country (black bear and / or brown bear: Grizzlies) should read Herraro’s book as if their life depended on it, as it probably does! There are though several things that should be stressed regarding survival and the bear issue, and a few that aren’t specifically emphasized in the book.

    Bear attack statistics are notoriously incorrect. You cannot compare bear attacks to lightning strikes or any other widely distributed menace (such as dog inflicted injury or bee stings etc.) because the sample pool is incomparable. All North American residents are included in sample pools for lightning strikes etc. because that phenomenon is equally dispersed among the entire population. Not so in the case of bear attacks because the sample pool is minuscule in relation to the lightning strike pool—a relatively small sample pool exists in the case of bear attacks due to the limited geographical distribution of bears.
    Bears are absolutely unpredictable. We can only make generalities that hold true some of the time ONLY.
    One common misconception: Black bears are not dangerous. This is simply wrong. Black bears are more opportunistic than brown bears—but they are also more inclined to prey upon humans as the record illustrates without any doubt. More people are eaten by Black bears than any other bear species. If after sizing a human up they decide you are weaker than they; be prepared to fight for your life—DO NOT play dead in the case of a black bear attack—because you will be! Bears possess vision at least as good as humans. A bear’s hearing is many times that of a humans. Bears olfactory sense is many fold that of a bloodhound. Grizzly bears can climb trees if they want to bad enough. Victims have been pulled out of a tree 35 or more feet above the ground. Grizzly bears make use of the shortest of branches and knobs, partly shimmying, partly climbing; using their forelegs, claws and teeth to pull themselves up. Often in attacks where the bear has followed a victim up a tree the bear grabs the victim’s ankle or foot, then by completely letting go of everything but its victim, it deliberately falls to the ground. You can be assured that any bear riled up enough to do this will, once on terra firma, severely punish the object of its displeasure.

    Herraro emphasizes: a bear can run at 35MPH! TRUE: You cannot outrun a bear. In spite of common folklore; bears run downhill as fast as uphill and nearly as fast as on level open ground.

    Downplayed as the reality of bear danger might be—bears especially brown / grizzly bears are as a whole becoming conditioned in most parts of its range to consider man with much less fear, or even worse, as food. Urban food conditioning, unreasonably low harvest quotas based on politically skewed bear census data, overprotection as well as the increase in the numbers of people taking to the woods have all contributed to this reality. More so than ever before; bears are associating mankind and his domiciles with food. In some areas of the Northwest the phenomenon of “dinner bell bears” has become epidemic—brown bears associating gunshots heard even from great distances with a downed animal, and they come running. The prudent hunter removes the animal carcass from the field as soon as possible without exception, and never singlehandedly. Bear behavior has a genetic element; fear of man because of major injury or observed fatal encounters with him (in the case of hunters) as well as a fearlessness of man because he has proven harmless is passed on from mother to offspring.

    The shrewd intelligence and memory capability of bears is legendary, as well the predisposition to never forget nor forgive an injury, relocation trauma, tranquilizer darting, trapping etc.. All these and others have resulted in hundreds of aggression driven incidents / charges and even deaths. It is totally impossible to accurately estimate the number of fatal attacks as these are often never identified as such. Many go unreported. Known by any serious hunter ./ trapper is how a brown bear will follow a trapline but well off to one side after the trapper has placed his traps; methodically stealing the fur bearers as it goes. All too often a lone hunter is listed as “lost” and is only found years after the incident, or never found at all. Many minor bear injuries go unreported each year. A guide I know well reports he had been charged 36 times without reporting but 7 of those due to the fact that he had to destroy and report those 7 in DLP, (Defense of Life or Property). Every year in Alaska badly disintegrated, rust eaten firearms and torn bits of clothing, wristwatches, rubber boots, and sometimes skulls and bone fragments etc. are found far back in the bush with no traceable identification possible. The giveaway is that there is very often a spent casing in the rifles chamber showing a firing pin indent.

    Human predation from black and brown bears is also an often ignored or under-reported fact—albeit something none of us want to really think about—the kind of thing nightmares are made of; but the phenomenon is getting more common and we must be aware and do whatever we can to minimize the chances of becoming a Timothy Treadwell. Read Herraro’s book.

    This venue is not the place for me to write another book on bear safety. My point in posting this is to simply reiterate what was written above and make the sasquatch researcher more aware since many are relatively unaccustomed to venturing into a realm where humans are but part of the food chain. Herraro’s book does a far better job regarding the subject than I could ever put together—so get his book; Abebooks.com offers used softcovers in excellent condition at very reasonable prices.

    My advice tempered by experience is to NEVER necessarily believe what the game wardens and National Park Service Rangers are telling you. Often they know little more than the average armchair explorer. In my informed opinion the Park Service at several National Parks both in Canada and the U.S. are directly responsible for several fatal bear encounters and many attacks resulting in serious injury.

    Always carry UDAP™ bear spray, (or one of the other high quality products), in the biggest size you can conveniently carry. Use a spray specific holster made for the brand product you’re using. Practice using it with practice spray cans before you go into bear country; they’re available. Practice being ready so that you can go from holster to accurate spray within 2-3 seconds. I believe that carrying any firearm afield while trying to locate a sasquatch is a nearly impossible proposition. For remote tent camping in areas of high bear populations consider the use of the new UDAP™ portable electric perimeter fence at night. Again one more time: acquire and read Herraro’s book—the most effective weapon is knowledge. With good knowledge and cautious confidence we can and should absolutely go into bear country safely, enjoyably and without unwarranted anxiety and fear.

  7. Opalman responds:

    According to the Associated Press:

    On the dark evening of June 28th,2011, 61 year old Lana Hollingworth of Gilbert Arizona was severely mauled by a hungry black bear near an Arizona Golf Countryclub. Most of her scalp was ripped off by the bear, which was habituated to humans and garbage. Though Ms. Hollingworth was accompanied by her dog, it proved to be little or no help in staying off the attack. The victim has undergone six surgeries to date in an effort to repair the damage the black bear inflicted, most of which were to her upper body. The bear was destroyed after being located by tracking dogs. Forensic evidence proved that the bear was the one that attacked Ms. Hollingworth. This was the seventh “recorded” bear attack incident in Arizona.

  8. David-Australia responds:

    Looked on eBay – bear book’s author’s surname actually spelled/spelt “Herrero not “Herraro” if you’re searching by author.

  9. Opalman responds:

    Thank you David Aus…
    You are correct, its “Herrero” not Herraro.
    Too…I believe there’s another (revised) edition; which I haven’t seen yet.

    @ Know it all,

    Brown (Grizzly) bears cubs tag along with their mothers for an average of 2 years, occasionally 3, at which time the already inseminated sow,(often), becomes pregnant again so there is really very little time when the danger from a cub protective brown bear sow doesn’t exist. There is an increased danger from sows with 2 year olds as they often join forces with their cubs in protecting kills and territory. The thinking is that sows teach cubs how to be effectively aggressive.

    The latest research indicates that there is relatively little danger of a protective sow black bear attacking a human. Reliable studies have shown that it is more likely that a black bear sow will flee with her cubs or even leave them behind if really pushed by a human threat.*

    The issue (no pun intended) of menstruating women in the field has no statistical basis in fact, other than in the case of polar bears. (there are several scientific analyses) In spite of that research, recommended is that any materials used by menstruating women (used tampons) be thoroughly burned. Women should not use external pads or products, or products with perfumes etc, use unscented tampons only.

    Firearms are pretty useless except in the hands of a truly expert marksmen with lightning reflexes and nerves of steel. The average outdoorsman shooting a firearm at a charging grizzly (closure rate= 40ft / sec) is likely to wound a charging brown bear or miss altogether instigating a much more severe response than would otherwise be the case.

    @ “That goes for cougar, escaped large cat exotics, large raptor, wolf, coyote, coy-dog hybrids & feral dog packs too.”

    Am I missing something? I don’t understand…are you advocating shooting raptors? The only raptor attacks I have ever heard of involved the Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), a IUCN: near threatened and CITES: appendix I bird from South America. Even in cases self protection; in my opinion; the use of deadly force against this raptor would be a serious crime against nature.

    * Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance by Stephen Herrero, published by Winchester Press, 1985
    and Charlie Vandergaw, Stranger Among Bears: @Animal Planet.com, TV et al.

  10. Know it all responds:

    In response to several of your posed questions or concerns I’ll just simply say ethically an animal is animal and a wild animal “intrinsically” is not qualitatively different than a domesticated animal such as beef cattle or a stray dog sent to the animal shelter whose destiny is ultimately to be euthanised. Any animal that is in the process of attempting to kill you or your loved ones is subject to the kill or wind up being killed laws of Nature for time immemorial past.

    What human beings can be capable of, is using whatever as humane or quick means as possible given one’s cultural, financial & technological capabilities. After all, most all animals succumb to the deterioration of old age and slowly starve to death or die of cancer or parasites in the wild or torn to pieces as another animal’s next meal.

    Even Oprah Winfrey (some authority) had on as a guest a photographer who was severly mauled by a black bear sow with cubs in a non-predatory attack.

    Along the line of the raptor comment, while to a majority degree I was recalling the horror stories in Hall’s “Thunderbirds: The Living Legend of Giant Birds”, it is well documented that large Golden Eagles & Stellers Sea Eagles not only kill human children for food, with large Golden Eagles even attempting diving attack on adult human cliff climbers and mountain goats/sheep to cause them to stumble & fall to their death to provide an easy meal. Large Great Horned Owls are documented to attack adult humans in the depths of winter snow when game food happens to be very scarce when starving. Larger “cryptozoological” forms of the previous creatures are documented by both Amerindians & American settlers to be an even greater danger.

    As a matter of fact, we should add escaped russian boars from game preserves, razorback feral swine, the giant human sized bat reported from the Sierra Madres thru Texas to Pennsyvania as reported predators of human beings… and human sized bipedal reptiles reported to be predators & alligators, crocodiles & matured escaped caimans to the list.

    A Kentucky DNR official has personally said, if the general public really knew what is really out there in the woods at night, you would be afraid to go out camping in the deep woods.

    Very serious cougar & 3/4 the size “black panther” problem in the Ohio, Indiana & Kentucky Midwestern states hushed up as much as possible by the DNR/Feds. Hundreds of reports including a woman in my office a few years back.

    While it most certainly helps a great deal to be an experienced crack shot with nerves of steel like a number of the borderline crazy brave guides and bear defense escorts up in Alaska, and while M-16/M-14,AK-47 machine guns are/were legally used (by the less skillfull of markmanship) in the Midwest only for use only on private property after a destructive animal permit is issued as a result of economic loss, but in 99% of the USA, the average person won’t legally have use of that option.

    If one can afford it, sure, hire 2 professional fearless experienced guides, one with a .375 H&H on up & the other with a 12 gauge with a combat load of slugs/buckshot. But bears have been killed while attacking by 10mm & .367 handguns. The technolgy of modern super bullets, muzzle brakes, mercury recoil reducers, Gracoil & auto-buster recoil compression absorbers, Limbsaver/HivX pads, gas operated semi-autos with 10 shot magazines in .338 Lapua, 450 Rigby & .505 Gibbs puts impressive stopping firepower with modest controllable recoil in the hands of those who can afford it. Something that didn’t exist in prior generation as when Patterson “shot” Patty (on video at least).

  11. Opalman responds:

    I don’t believe this venue is the place to argue about ballistics—nor do I have any interest in making anyone look foolish.

    I would though caution anyone that might be staying in bear country to educate themselves and prepare for unforeseen eventualities to the best of their abilities.

    Happy hunting!

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