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Grizzly bear kills hiker near Yellowstone

Grizzly bears

A man hiking near Yellowstone National Park on Thursday was killed by a grizzly bear, the same animal that researchers had tranquilized, captured and released earlier in the day.

Erwin Frank Evert, 70, of Park Ridge, Ill., was reported missing by his wife, Yolanda, to a member of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which had been conducting research in the Kitty Creek drainage, about seven miles east of Yellowstone.

The Everts own a cabin in the area, where Erwin, a botanist, often hiked to research the region’s plants and animals.

When her husband didn't return from an afternoon hike, Yolanda went looking for him and met one of the bear researchers returning from the capture site. The study team member returned to the site, where Evert's body was discovered.

According to the Park County, Wyo., sheriff's office, which was called to the location, Evert was not armed or carrying bear spray.

Chris Servheen, grizzly bear coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the adult male grizzly was located Saturday morning by trackers following a signal from a radio collar that had been placed around the bear's neck.

The animal was shot and killed from a helicopter, and died about 2 miles from where Evert's body was found. A lab analysis confirmed that it was the same animal that mauled Evert.

Concern has been raised that area residents weren't well informed of the possible risks, but according to the Billings Gazette, Evert was aware of the possible dangers. Family friend and professional colleague Chuck Neal said that he spoke with Evert before his death, having received a call from him last week about the signs posted in the area, and that his friend was "absolutely aware" of the risks of hiking in the area.

"We try to do everything we can to minimize the risks. But we can't protect ourselves against people that ignore every warning we give, and we can't protect people against themselves," Servheen said. "The whole thing is regrettable; just one tragedy followed by another."

The incident is the first fatal mauling by a grizzly in the area in 25 years, and the first such fatal attack to take place at a site where researchers had recently trapped and released a bear.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Grizzly bears. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Comments (9)

Leave the bear alone get out of their homes! stop killing them!!!

you are invading their territory!! I'm sick of you idiots killing these poor animals

Just because idiots don't obey warnings !!!!!! WHY was the bear killed?>>>>

The animal was shot and killed from a helicopter, and died about 2 miles from where Evert's body was found. A lab analysis confirmed that it was the same animal that mauled Evert.

Concern has been raised that area residents weren't well informed of the possible risks, but according to the Billings Gazette, Evert was aware of the possible dangers.

It won't be too many more years before there will be no more grizzlies, no more wolves, no more sharks, and in fact, not much of anything else but miles and miles and layers and layers of people. And how much poorer will we be for all that.

I may be wrong, but I thought that most wildlife agencies have a standing policy that if any of the big cats, wolves, or bears, fatally attack a human, they are usually tracked down and killed out of concern that such an attack might possibly occur again because that animal would no longer be unaccustomed to encountering humans?

This may be a bit off topic, but all of the articles written about the incident say that the bear was captured and "released", but in fact, researchers left the bear while it was still under from the sedatives that had been given. They did not wait for the bear to wake up, nor did they monitor the bear while it was waking up. They did not hang around to see if the bear moved away from the area...they just walked away while it was still tranquilized. It's like leaving a patient on an operating table to wake on their own...not monitoring blood pressure, breathing or more importantly, behavior. In addition, these capture operations were happening very near to human development. Apparently there is a boy scout camp within a couple miles of where the bear was captured. Imagine if this bear had awakened and wandered into a boy scout camp. While I believe that Mr. Evert made a fatal mistake, I also believe that a mistake was made by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in choosing to conduct their studies so close to human civilization.


Your posting of the reason for the shooting of the bear is not really an explanation with any substance. Chris said,". . .just wanted to be sure." What does that mean? The reason to recapture the bear would be to relocate him. Trails and areas are often closed to the public because of Grizzly activity in the area. The FWS with the cooperation of the Forest Service could have closed the area. If the bear was moving "deeper into the wilderness" that is a good thing. So what is the policy? If a bear mauls a person it probably won't be killed, but if the mauling results in a death of a person then the bear pays with its life? What about the responsibility of those who travel in Grizzly country? Taveling in Grizzly country without bear srpay or making noise is setting up a potentially dangerous situation. Sorry, but I know longer believe that FWS has the interests of the bears or any wildlife as their primary value or goal. Bears are just an experimental population to be collared and studied to death. One last question, would the man who lost his life have wanted the bear to die?


From the Billings Gazette article:

Chris Servheen, grizzly bear coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said he decided late Friday to authorize killing the bear if it could not be captured, because experts could not definitively determine whether the animal’s actions were natural and defensive or aberrant and unusually aggressive.

"We regret the whole idea of having to remove a bear, but we just wanted to be sure. I stand by that decision to remove him," Servheen said.

Servheen said the bear was initially near a road where it might have been captured, but it later began moving deeper into the wilderness, where it could later shed its radio collar and become exceptionally difficult to locate.

Servheen said he and other agency officials agreed that "the best thing to do for the safety of the public is to remove the bear."

Thanks for reading, and commenting,

I live in Montana and it amazes me how cavalier some people are when they travel in the backcountry. I always carry bear spray and just recently my dog and I had a bear encounter with a huge 300lb plus female black bear and her cub. She didn't charge me, but if she had and I did not have bear spray I would have probably been seriously injured.The man who lost his life was living in prime Grizzly habitat. That part of Wyoming is major Grizzly country and one should always carry bear spray and make noise while hiking on any trail there. Moreover, traveling during early morning or early or late evening increases one's chance of a bear encounter. A sad ending to a situation that could have had a different outcome. One must be vigilant in bear country! That said, the FWS may have created a more dangerous situation by leaving a drugged and possibly aggressive bear in the area. There hands are not clean. Lastly, I would like to know why the FWS killed the bear? Why not relocate the bear? The Crandall area in the Absorka Wilderness outside of Yellowstone is place where problem bears have been located. It is very remote and wild. So did the FWS kill the bear for political reasons? Are they trying to appease the anti-wildlife elements in Wyoming. A lot of questions need to be answered. Another example of managing wildlife to death.

This is an unfortunate event for the bear. I am sick to my stomach each time I read about when someone goes into the wilderness and is attacked by an animal and then the poor animal is killed. With so much new development infringing on their habitat, we are pushing them out....of course they come down for food where humans are. DUH!!!! When you go into Yellowstone, there are signs warning you about wildlife. I think if you are attacked, it's from your own stupidity and you get what you deserve. If a human kills someone, should we all just round up the posse and shoot and kill him on the spot? Take these animals if you must and relocate them if that is the only option rather than kill the poor animal. What if it was a mother bear defending her cubs? Now the cubs will die! UGH!!!!


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.