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Rangers trap grizzly bear believed responsible for camper death

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) officials have captured a female grizzly and two of her three cubs in a campground near Yellowstone National Park where a man was killed and two others injured in a bear attack, the Associated Press reported today.

“Fish, Wildlife & Parks Warden Captain Sam Sheppard says the bear was captured in a culvert trap Wednesday evening and two of her three cubs were captured overnight,” the AP said. “Sheppard said Thursday that officials are confident they captured the offending bear.”

Grizzly in trap photo.jpg

NGS stock photo of grizzly bears in a trap by James P. Blair

NPR reported: “The bear will be killed, if it already hasn’t been. There was no indication from authorities on what would happen to the cubs aside from the information that they wouldn’t be returned to the wild.”  

FWP set traps in anticipation of the return of the bear that killed one person and injured two others in separate attacks in a national forest campground near Yellowstone National Park.

FWP officials investigated the attacks at Soda Butte Campground in the Gallatin National Forest that are believed to have occurred about 2 a.m. on Wednesday, according to a statement on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website.”

According to a Park County Sheriff’s dispatch record, a Park County Sheriff’s deputy and a FWP game warden were dispatched to the Soda Butte Campground about 2:30 a.m. “Investigators found a man dead at the campground at 4:30 a.m.,” the statement said

“Two other people, a male and a female, were reportedly bitten and later treated at a hospital in Cody, Wyoming. The identities of the victims have not been released,” the FWP statement said.

FWP officials, in cooperation with the Gallatin National Forest, the National Park Service and the Park County Sherriff’s Office, spent much of yesterday at the site collecting forensic evidence of the attacks, FWP added.

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.

“The camp sites are being combed for evidence,” said FWP 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.”

Tents were ripped or damaged during the attacks, yet no food was found in the tent of the dead man or in the tents of the two injured victims. “Everyone appeared to have followed all food storage regulations,” Aasheim said.

The Soda Butte Campground, the nearby Chief Joseph and Colter campgrounds, also in the Gallatin National Forest, are closed.

“This is not typical bear behavior. It’s odd. It’s not normal,” Aasheim said on the FWP website.

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