Indeed, the 70-page report from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (which you can view here) explicitly points out that reports of local grizzlies were being baited by a photographer were unsubstantiated, and a carbon isotope analysis showed she had not eaten human food for at least two years. Also ruled out: any evidence that the bear and her cubs had become habituated to human beings; although there have been some reports of a grizzly mother and three cubs — an unusual circumstance — in the area by tourists, locals interviewed for the report and by this website failed to uncover any reports of regular visits to any business or cabin in the Soda Butte Campground area.
Let’s come right out and say it: this was one sick bear. Living on a vegetarian diet unable to sustain her, she also suffered from parasites in the lower intestine. Put together, it’s pretty clear she was miserable, and she was lighter than a normal grizzly bear.
The theory: she snapped, swinging from a vegetarian diet to eating most of the torso of Kevin Kammer, 48, a tent camper at the Soda Butte Campground that night. No food was out, no camper did anything to attract a bear, and there were no other diseases, such as rabies, that would explain the behavior. That’s not much consolation to Kammer’s family, nor is it probably settling to the two other campers mauled that night. But the report stresses one thing: bears are omnivores that can sometimes snap. In this case, that appears to be what happened.
To recap: A grizzly sow and her three cubs went to the Soda Butte Campground early Wednesday morning, located seven miles east of the Yellowstone National Park East Entrance past Cooke City, and tore apart a tent containing Kevin Kummer, 48, of Grand Rapids. He was killed in the tent; his body was dragged 25 feet or so and then partially eaten by at least one griz. After that she and the cubs went after two other tents, biting Deb Freele of London, Ontario to the point where she required surgery to repaid the broken bones in her arms; Ronald Singer of Alamosa, Col. was bitten on the calf before fighting off the griz. (Our full coverage can be found in the links at the end of the article.)
The above photo shows the grizzly sow before she was euthanized. Courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department.
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