A killer grizzly is roaming Yellowstone National Park’s back-country after mauling a hiker who apparently surprised the female bear and its cubs.
The gruesome attack, which was the park’s first fatality of its kind in 25 years, occurred about a mile and a half from the start of the Wapiti Lake trail, a popular back-country trail near that runs through the heart of the sprawling 2.2 million acre park.
A National Park Service statement said that the 57-year-old male victim – whose identity is behind withheld until his family is notified – and his wife had inadvertently surprised the mother grizzly and her cubs, and in “an attempt to defend a perceived threat to her cubs, the bear attacked and fatally wounded the man.”
The victim’s wife, who escaped with scrapes and bruises but didn’t require medical attention, told park officials she didn’t see the bear attack her husband.
When the grizzly went for her she quickly dropped to the ground. The bear then lifted her off the ground by the day pack she was wearing, only to drop her back down.
Due to the fact that the animal acted in “defense,” Park spokesman Al Nash said Yellowstone authorities would not attempt to capture or remove the killer grizzly.
Furthermore, while lamenting the death, officials said they didn’t want to overemphasize the danger to visitors.
“This is a wild and natural park,” said Diane Shober, director of the state Wyoming Travel and Tourism agency. “At the same time, the likelihood of this happening again is small.”