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Fatal bear attack in Yellowstone is the second this summer

August 29, 2011 | 12:52 pm

Photo: A file photo released by Yellowstone National Park shows a grizzly bear moving through the brush at the park. Credit: James Peaco / Yellowstone National Park A Yellowstone National Park hiker whose body was found last week was mauled and killed by a grizzly bear, authorities confirmed Monday.

The hiker was identified as 59-year-old John Wallace of Chassell, Mich. He was traveling alone and had pitched his tent in a campground along the Mary Mountain Trail on Wednesday.

His body was discovered Friday morning by two hikers. An autopsy conducted on Sunday confirmed that Wallace died of traumatic injuries from a bear attack.

"There was no witness to this incident and we really don't have a lot of information to help us determine why this attack may have occurred," said Al Nash, park spokesman.

He said park rangers are conducting fly-overs of the area where the attack occurred.

"The next step is to see if we can find a bear, and then determine if that is the bear involved in the incident," he said. "That might help them figure out why this attack happened at all."

Wallace is the second person to die of a bear attack in the park this summer. In July, a female bear attacked and killed a 57-year-old Torrance man.

Still, bear attacks are rare at Yellowstone. No one was hurt by a bear in the park last year, and before the two latest incidents, no human had been killed by a bear in the park since 1986.

Nash put it this way: "In recent years we've had about one bear-caused injury for every 3 million visitors," he said.

Park rangers and managers and wildlife biologists are still investigating just what happened to Wallace. In earlier reports of the incident it was noted that he was carrying a snack bar in his closed backpack, but the bear reportedly did not try to get to that.

Visitors to Yellowstone are advised to stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more and be on general alert for bears. Bear repellent spray is recommended, and hikers are advised not to run if they encounter a bear.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Photo: A file photo released by Yellowstone National Park shows a grizzly bear moving through the brush at the park. Credit: James Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

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