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

A Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks employee patrols the area where a man was killed by a bear in the Soda Butte campground early Wednesday. Officials set five culvert traps in the campground, in anticipation of the animal's return.

One person was killed and two injured when at least one bear rampaged through a campground near Yellowstone National Park early Wednesday morning.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials are investigating the attacks, believed to have occurred about 2 a.m., at Soda Butte Campground in the Gallatin National Forest which left one man dead, a woman suffering severe lacerations from bites on her arms, and another man bitten on his calf. The identities and ages of the victims have not been released.  

Officials are still trying to sort out how many bears were involved, and what may have caused the attack.

"The campsites are being combed for evidence," said Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim. "We’re not certain if it was one bear or more than one, and we haven’t determined if it was a grizzly or black bear. We’ve extracted DNA samples from evidence found on site. This will help us identify the bear or bears involved, once captured.”

"This is not typical bear behavior. It’s odd. It’s not normal," Aasheim continued.

Tents were ripped or damaged during the attacks, yet no food was found in any of the victims' tents. "Everyone appeared to have followed all food storage regulations," Aasheim said. Many campgrounds in bear country, including Soda Butte, have "bear boxes," metal storage containers for food storage away from tents.

The Soda Butte Campground as well as nearby Chief Joseph and Colter campgrounds, also in the Gallatin National Forest, have been closed.

Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials, in cooperation with Gallatin National Forest, the National Park Service and the Park County Sheriff’s Office, have been at the site collecting forensic evidence of the attacks. A number of traps also have been set in anticipation of the return of a bear. Any bear caught and tied to the attack by DNA or other evidence will be killed. 

Officials from the agencies will hold a community meeting at the Cooke City Chamber of Commerce Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the incident.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks employee patrols the area where a man was killed by a bear in the Soda Butte campground early Wednesday. Officials set five culvert traps in the campground, in anticipation of the return of a bear. Credit: David Grubbs / Billings Gazette

Related updates:

Grizzly bear and cubs captured after fatal campground attack near Yellowstone

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

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Comments (20)

Here's a clue: Every square mile of North America is bear habitat.
Many bears were killed to clear the land where you now live.
Where will YOU go?

Here's a thought, remove the humans from the natural habitat of the bears!

It makes me sick that anyone would want to kill a bear, let alone her poor defenseless cubs because humans were in the bear's domain. It's like someone encroaching or worse, breaking into your home that you feel safe in & harming your family. What would any god fearing creature do??? You would do anything to protect your family, even kill if you had to. So many times, I hear about some swimmer or surfer dude getting maimed or eaten by a great white shark, well hey, you're in their world, thier home, thier domain. It's the risk you take people. And what is the first thing stupid humans do? They go out & hunt down the first great white they can find & kill it. Well that makes sense, now I feel safer swimming in the ocean now that there's one less shark in the water, DUH!!!! I think it's cruel to kill her & her babies. Has anyone heard about ENDANGERED SPECIES?? Thank all the stupid humans, now & in the past for that.


Just to clarify for all the city slickers.
Up until 300 years ago, there were more bears in the middle of what is now DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES than almost anywhere on the continent.
And they were huge, vicious, California Golden Grizzlies, not Yogi or Boo-Boo.
Should they be re-introduced to their rightful, natural habitat?

Unfortunately once bears attack humans they will usually continue that behavior. I hate to see bears euthanized but in these cases it is necessary. I backpack and camp in bear territory and have never had a bad experience with a bear. I carry pepper spray just in case, I always keep my food at least 50 feet away from my sleeping area/tent, I use a bear proof canister or hang my food where bears cannot get to it. I also keep my distance from bears if possible and never approach cubs. I have seen bears in the wild but they have always (so far) gone away from me. But if the bear attacked someone in their tent, unfortunately it will have to be destroyed or it will attack again.

Eric~ I am not guilty. I do my part to co-habitate with nature and share my space with the wildlife around my home. I don't eat meat, nor do I wear fur or any animal product. I'm pro-active in working with my village to put up deer crossing signs along the road behind me due to the fact that a group of deer cross there every night, as well as encouraged the village to post more officers along the road to keep speeders in check. I co-exist with wildlife, sharing my world with them. I do not punish them for being what they are. This is their land, their home. I am merely a visitor that needs to repect them, not kill them.

This was a heavily populated camp ground and the inhabitants were sleeping peacefully in their tents. They had followed all guidelines and kept food stored properly. If you were camping, and a man attacked and killed your spouse or child for no reason, wouldn't you expect that man to be put in jail for life, if not executed. He's a threat to the safety of society, right? Just as these bears are. Some bears have been proven to exhibit malicious intent toward humans, whether out of hunger or defense of young/territory, the bears who attacked this camp ground have lost their natural fear of humans, and must be killed. Letting them remain in the wild puts campers, hikers, and hunters at risk. These activities are staples of Wyoming/Montana culture, and we must do whatever it takes to protect them and practice them safely, even if that means taking drastic action and executing wild animals.

Wherever you live wasn't always part of nature. Every square inch of this world was a natural habitat. The fact that you live on Earth makes you every bit as guilty as you believe the rest of us are.

They will kill the bear because that is what the high and mighty human species does to wildlife. If it is the bear that they recently trapped (along with two of her three cubs), she may have attacked simply because she felt her territory was threatened and she was merely protecting her young. That's what they do. It makes me sick to think that we tresspass on the homes of wildlife and then kill them when they attack.

Kelly -

This is Soda Butte campground:


There are a couple photos there as well as a map and other pertinent info.

We are top of the food chain and that friggin bear has the audacity to challenge that?! Right now he's probably out there, in the forrest, sewing the seed of discontent amongst his lowlife bear peeps... Frankie, I want you to find this guy and teach him a lesson he wont forget. Make an example of this... this... bear.

Killing the bear.. Among the other reasons listed by other people, the behavior is atypical and the animal may have rabies and sadly the best way we can test that is by killing it and dissecting its brain.. If it IS rabid, it's a threat to other bears as well as people.

The reason the bear will be killed is to remove the killer bear from the park. Bears that attack and kill have been shown to repeat the attacks and killing. Bears that do not show this behavior are considered to be safer and more predictable.

@Yogi, it is my understanding that bears are normally wary of humans and avoid contact at all costs. However, when a bear is found who is not wary of humans, it could possibly be a repeat offender and attack again and again.

They kill the bear for the same reason that you don't feed the bears. If the bear is emboldened enough to attack and kill humans once, it will do it again. There is no way to teach the bear that this behavior is not OK. The best way to avoid these sorts of interactions is for bears and humans to have a healthy fear of each other. Once the fear is gone, all bets are off.

Yogi, you just showed what you know about animal training.

Its called self rewarding behavior. Its much like letting the dog get on the counter to get food. If you dont correct it it will only get worse.

In this case though, since people died, its not a behavior anyone wants to risk reoccurring. I hate to say it, but humans are actually a pretty easy source of food for bears, and its been shown before that a bear that kills humans, will continue to do so.

Sad what happened to the campers... but WHY kill the bear? making no sense.
If an area is so dangerous from bear attack, please stay away & leave the animal alone.

It's not punishment or vengeance.
It is simply removing a specific bear with a tendency to attack humans from the gene pool.

"Any bear caught and tied to the attack by DNA or other evidence will be killed. "

WHY ??? Are they trying to send a message to other bears that 'this behavior will not be tolerated' ?
This whole 'eye for an eye' thing has gone a little to far.
If they do not link a bear to 'the attack' now, will they open a "cold case" 20 yrs later and finally bring the guilty bear to justice ?

Its there home were visiting and danger is part of the thrill of camping,
Don't Blame the Bears!


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.