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Grizzly bear and cubs captured after fatal campground attack near Yellowstone

July 29, 2010 |  2:36 pm

A sign at the entrance of the Soda Butte Campground tells would-be visitors to stay out after a man was killed and two people injured when a bear rampaged through the campground.

A mother grizzly believed responsible for killing one person and injuring two after rampaging through a campground near Yellowstone National Park has been captured, along with two of her three cubs.

Associated Press reports that the sow, estimated to weigh 300 to 400 pounds, was lured into a trap fashioned from culvert pipe covered by the dead victims' tent. The bear tore down the tent again and was caught in the trap, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim.

By Thursday morning, two of the bear's year-old cubs had also been caught and the third could be heard nearby, calling out to its mother.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard said he was confident they had captured the attacking bear because it came back to the same site where the man was killed early Wednesday at Soda Butte Campground in the Gallatin National Forest.

Montana wildlife officials have identified the man killed as Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich. The bear pulled Kammer out his tent and dragged him 25 feet to where his body was found, Aasheim said.

The other victims, Deb Freele of London, Canada, who suffered severe lacerations and crushed bones from bites on her arm, and an unidentified male survivor, who suffered puncture wounds on his calf, remain hospitalized in Cody, Wyo.

Freele said that she awoke just before the bear bit her on the arm, and instinctively played dead so the animal would leave her alone.

"I screamed, he bit harder, I screamed harder, he continued to bite," Freele said, adding that she could hear her bones breaking. "I told myself, play dead. I went totally limp. As soon as I went limp, I could feel his jaws get loose and then he let me go."

Freele added that the bear was silent. "This, to me, was just an absolutely freaky thing," she said. "I have to believe that the bear was not normal. It was very quiet, it never made any noise. I felt like it was hunting me."

Officials have said the sow will be killed after DNA evidence confirms it was the same bear that attacked the victims.

"Everything points to it being the offending bear, but we are not going to do anything until we have DNA samples," Aasheim said.

State and federal wildlife officials have not yet determined the fate of the cubs. Sheppard said they are unlikely to be returned to the wild, because they could have been learning predatory behavior from their mother.

The campground, as well as the nearby Chief Joseph and Colter campgrounds, remain closed.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A sign at the entrance of the Soda Butte Campground tells would-be visitors to stay out after a man was killed and two people injured when a bear rampaged through the campground. Credit: Matthew Brown / Associated Press

Related:

Bears confirmed as those involved in fatal campground rampage near Yellowstone; female adult euthanized, cubs to be sent to zoo

One person killed, two injured after bear rampages through campground near Yellowstone

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