Grizzly bear
The beautiful and dangerous Grizzly Bear. Image: chascar/Flickr/CC BY

A grizzly bear killed a man who was hiking with his wife in Yellowstone National Park Wednesday. Park officials said the bear will not be trapped or killed. The incident has sparked concern over the possible affect on tourism.

Grizzly bear with her cubs

Yellowstone National Park stretches into three states — Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The attack happened near the scenic Artist Point in Wyoming. Park spokesman Al Nash said the couple saw the bear and her cubs twice while they were hiking. The first time, they hiked away from the animals. When they saw the grizzly again, she charged them.

Man told his wife to run

The 57-year-old man told his wife to run. She called 911 on her cell phone and other hikers in the area came in response to cries for help. The woman said she did not see the bear attacking her husband. When the grizzly came for her, she fell to the ground. The bear picked her up by her backpack and then dropped her.

The 57-year-old man was mauled to death before help could arrive. His identity has been withheld, pending notification of family members. The woman suffered no serious injuries and did not seek medical treatment.

‘A wildlife incident’

Nash said that the grizzly would not be trapped or killed. The bear, he says, was reacting to what she perceived as a threat to her cubs. The park will not respond to what he termed “a wildlife incident.”

Third attack in just more than a year

This is the first fatality caused by a grizzly bear in the park in 25 years. However, it is the third fatal bear attack in the region in just more than a year. An Illinois man was killed by a bear outside the park’s east gate in June of last year. One motorist was killed and two others were injured in a grizzly attack in July of 2010 near the border of Yellowstone in Montana.

Exxon oil spill

The fatal mauling comes right after last Friday’s oil spill, which caused Yellowstone’s rivers to rise. That incident occurred when an Exxon pipeline burst. Cleanup efforts are under way on the spill. There has been concern about what effect the combined incidents will have on tourism.

‘A wild and natural park’

“This is a wild and natural park,” said Diane Shober, director of the Wyoming Travel and Tourism agency. “At the same time, the likelihood of this happening again is small.”


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