The Yellowstone grizzly that attacked and killed a Montana hiker was euthanized today, Park authorities said at about 1 p.m.

“As managers of Yellowstone National Park, we balance the preservation of Park resources with public safety,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk. “Our decision takes into account the facts of the case, the goals of the bear management program and the long term viability of the grizzly bear population as a whole, rather than an individual bear.” 

An important fact in the decision to euthanize the bear is she ate a “significant portion” of the body and cached it with the intent to return to eat more, the press release said. Normal defensive attacks by female bears defending their young do not involve eating the victim’s body, the press release also said. 

Results from an autopsy conducted on Monday afternoon conclude Lance Crosby, 63, of Billings, died of traumatic injuries sustained in a bear attack. 

Results from DNA analysis collected in bear hair samples found next to Crosby’s body confirmed the adult female grizzly was the bear involved in the fatal attack. The sow was captured at the scene on the night the body was discovered. 

Additional support beyond the DNA evidence proves:

• the bear and cubs were at the attack site when Park rangers found Crosby’s body

• bear tracks of a female with cubs were found at Crosby’s body

• this bear was captured at the fatality site within 24 hours of the body being found

• and canine-teeth puncture wounds inflicted on the victim are consistent with the bite size of the sow captured at the site. 

Arrangements have been made to transfer the bear’s two cubs to a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The AZA sets strict standards for facilities with regard to animal handling and care.

Details of this placement are being worked out. The AZA facility is expected to make an announcement Friday.

The area closures, including the Elephant Back Loop Trail and Natural Bridge Trail, will be lifted on Friday, Aug. 14.  

Park officials remind visitors all of Yellowstone is bear country. Because of this:

• hikers are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more

• always carry bear spray that is readily accessible

• make noise on the trail

• and be alert for bears. 

Per Park regulations, people are required to maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards from all other large animals. 

For more information on hiking in bear country and how to minimize the dangers associated with a bear encounter, visit: www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/bearsafety.htm.

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