There’s one rule in the backcountry: never get between a momma grizzly and her cubs. In this case, we’re talking about a momma griz weighing between 300 and 400 pounds, along with two year-old cubs.
The mother bear was caught when she went after the tent owned by the victim, identified as 48-year-old Kevin Kammer of Grand Rapids, Mich. was set up as a lure. She was caught in the trap after going after the tent.
It’s not a sure thing the mother bear is the culprit: DNA testing of hair samples will determine that. Still, bears tend to return to the scene of the crime, and the fact the mother was trapped going after the dead man’s tent is a pretty good indication that she’s the one.
Or one of the ones. It’s possible the cubs were involved in some way, which would lend some level of logic to the tragedy. If she is the culprit, she’ll certainly be put down, and it’s fairly certain the cubs will be put down as well.
The background: At about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday a bear or bears entered the 10-acre campground and made their way through the three separate campground areas, knocking down several tents and attacking three people. The exact sequence of what was attacked is unknown. The two survivors were not camping together, but their campsites were relatively close; the middle-aged man who was killed was camping alone in a different part of the campground, in campsite 22, but authorities aren’t saying where his body was found. We don’t know where the attacks began. We do know that the injured man managed to scare off the bear by yelling and kicking at it. Other campers were awakened by the ruckus and drove through the campground, honking their car horns and driving through the campground to awaken the other campers. A Park County emergency team arrived and later cleared out the campground.
The Soda Butte Campground is about seven miles outside the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, just outside of Cooke City. This is the second time in three years a bear attacked a person at the Soda Butte Campground; the man’s hand was bitten and his tent crushed. In that case, the bear was captured and sent out of the region. (We heavily suggest you read our coverage of that incident; the similarities are haunting.)
Photo of grizzly courtesy of National Park Service.