Yellowstone grizzly put down after hiker killed

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Bear might be put down after hiker killed

A grizzly bear was euthanized Thursday after investigators determined that it killed a hiker in Yellowstone National Park last week.

Autopsy results confirmed Lance Crosby, 63, died as a result of traumatic injuries sustained from a grizzly bear attack, park officials said. Additional evidence also pointed to the bear, who was female, as his attacker.

The grizzly was captured shortly after park rangers found Crosby’s body on August 7. A DNA analysis confirmed the bear’s hair was found near the body.

Investigators say the adult bear and two cubs were at the attack site when park rangers found Crosby’s body, and they found a female bear’s tracks and her cubs’ tracks near the body.

They also say puncture wounds on the victim were consistent with the captured female grizzly’s bite.

“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.”

Friday, the Toledo Zoo announced it will be home to the twin female cubs captured alongside the grizzly sometime this fall. The cubs are less than a year old, and wildlife officials said they’re too young to survive in the wild without their mother. They can weigh up to 500 pounds as adults but only weigh about 50 pounds right now.

“An important fact in the decision to euthanize the bear was that a significant portion of the (hiker’s) body was consumed and cached with the intent to return for further feeding,” park officials said in a media statement. “Normal defensive attacks by female bears defending their young do not involve consumption of the victim’s body.”

Crosby was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, a company that operates three urgent-care clinics in Yellowstone. An experienced hiker, he had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons, park officials said.

He was reported missing Friday morning when he did not report for work. A park ranger found his body in a popular off-trail area less than a mile from Elephant Back Loop Trail, an area he was known to frequent.

That trail and other areas, which had been closed after the attack, will reopen Friday.

Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said this was the first fatal human-bear encounter in Yellowstone this year.

Deadly encounters between bears and humans are rare in Yellowstone. According to its website, black and grizzly bears killed seven people in the park from 1872 to 2011.

From 2007 to 2013, wildlife killed six people in the entire national park system, according to the National Park Service. And, the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem was estimated to be between 674 and 839 in 2014.

Yellowstone is bear country, and park officials strongly encourage hikers to travel in groups of three or more, to carry bear spray that is easy to grab and to make noise while hiking to scare away bears. The park requires that people stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards from other large animals.

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