The grizzly bear that mauled and killed a hiker last week in Yellowstone National Park was euthanized, park officials said. This came after DNA tests conducted confirmed that the adult female bear had attacked the man.
‘It’s not a risk we’re willing to take’
The bear had eaten part of the body of 63-year-old Lance Crosby, and hid the rest of it. Spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said that this was not normal behavior for a bear looking to defend and protect its cubs, and so the animal had to be euthanized.
“If a bear consumes an individual, it’s not allowed to remain in the population,” she said, as reported by ABC News.
“It’s not a risk we’re willing to take.”
Also read: Animal Attack: Bear Kills Man In Yellowstone
While the cubs had also fed on Crosby’s body, they will be transported to a zoo, Bartlett added. Had they not been accepted by any zoo, they would have met the same fate.
“Cubs can adapt to a facility much easier, and there is no danger of them learning humans are food,” she said.
Crosby, who had lived and worked in Yellowstone for five seasons, was first reported missing when he did not show up for work on the morning of August 7. He was an experienced hiker and visited the park often.
Body discovered near Elephant Black Loop Trail
His partially eaten body was discovered later that day by a park ranger near the Elephant Black Loop Trail. Wounds found on Crosby’s forearms likely came from the attack, though the circumstances surrounding his death are still under investigation.
Animal tracks at the scene highlight the possibility that an adult bear and at least one cub were present at the scene at the time of the attack.
Traps were set throughout the area after Crosby’s body was found. An adult female bear was captured in the evening, with one of her cubs captured over the weekend. The second cub was captured near the scene of the attack on Tuesday.
The cubs will be sent to a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. While Bartlett did not specify where the cubs were being transferred to, the association will announce the same by Friday.
More likely to be killed by lightning
According to The Weather Network, the visitors of the park are more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than being attacked by a bear, with the chances of the latter being 1 in 2.1 million.
Yellowstone spokeswoman Julena Campbell said that the absence of any witnesses to account for whether the bear was defending her cubs when she attacked Crosby lowered her chances of survival.
“There are certainly people that have a hard time with the decision to euthanize the bear and that includes some of our biologists and park rangers,” Campbell said.
“We don’t get into the profession for that reason, but we have to make the decision for sound science and putting the safety of humans first. We can’t favor one individual bear over protecting the lives of humans.”
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s office has received several phone calls and emails in the last week asking that the governor intervene euthanizing the bear, spokesman for the governor said. However, the state cannot interpose the park’s decision.
To maintain caution, the area near the scene of the attack has been closed off to hikers and visitors.
Since 2010, this is the sixth death by a grizzly bear in and around Yellowstone. Approximately 750 bears are in the park and the neighboring areas of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
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