A 15-year-old female grizzly bear was euthanized on Thursday after tests confirmed that human remains were found in her stomach. Lance Crosby, 63, of Billings, died because of wounds from the grizzly attack while out hiking in the Lake Village area. His body was found on Friday about a half mile from the nearest trail. The grizzly had tried to conceal the body with pine needles and dirt for later consumption. Crosby had evidence on his hands and arms that he had tried to fight back. He was hiking alone and was not carrying bear spray.
Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said that eating part of a human’s body and hiding the rest is not normal behavior for a bear, even if it is trying to defend its cubs.
“If a bear consumes an individual, it’s not allowed to remain in the population,” she said. “It’s not a risk we’re willing to take. Once a bear consumes human remains, it will think that humans are a source of food and attack again.”
Was the bear sick? Is that why she attacked?
“She was a healthy old sow,” said Bartlett after a necropsy was performed on the bear.
The female grizzly’s cubs also ate some of the remains of the hiker. Since they are young, the park officials decided to try to find a zoo that would take them instead of euthanizing them. He said if the park couldn’t have found a zoo to take them, they would’ve had to have been killed too.
“The 50-60 pound grizzly cubs will be sent to a zoo in Toledo, Ohio,” said park officials on Friday. “They are not big enough to survive on their own.”
The Ohio zoo is excited about the grizzly cubs coming to live at their zoo. They have not had any grizzly bears on display for over 30 years.
Bartlett commented that the park has received numerous calls and emails from people who didn’t want to see the grizzly euthanized. People have objected to the park killing the bear when the hiker wasn’t carrying bear spray and decided to hike alone.
“Had this bear just had a defensive attack, we would probably be looking at a different outcome,” Bartlett said.
Bears are not always killed when an attack happens. If it’s a case of a bear protecting its young, then normally the bear will be taken into a deeper area of the park where it isn’t subjected to the public.
Yellowstone estimates that there are close to 750 bears in the park and in nearby areas of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
There have been six people killed by grizzles since 2010 in the Yellowstone area.
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