AP is reporting the decision by rangers not to pursue the grizzly, who was hanging around the pretty well-traveled Wapiti Lake trail, used by many to access Artist Point from the Canyon Village area.
We’re hearing more specifics about the attack. The grizzly and her cubs weren’t exactly being subtle about being in the area; as a matter of fact, the deceased visitor and his wife had already seen the grizzly once on the trail and decided to press forward anyway. It was on the second encounter that the grizzly sow attacked: the man took on the grizzly while his wife ran for help and called 911. Rangers responded immediately.
Of course, there’s massive speculation about why this incident occurred, the first time in 25 years that a Yellowstone visitor was killed by a bear. Increased numbers of visitors to the Park is surely a factor on some level, as is the increased numbers of grizzly bears in the Park: some 600 by official records, but perhaps a thousand or so, according to some Wyoming officials.
We suspect there are simpler reasons at play. Because of the late season and snow melt, everything is a little off-kilter in the Park this summer: normally by this time grizzlies and cubs would have moved to higher, drier ground, but there’s still a lot of snowpack in higher altitudes. (Indeed, one of our writers had to shovel four feet of snow to access his Cooke City cabin this past weekend.) We’re not tempted to attribute this to anything more than grizzlies being at a lower altitude than normal and the natural instincts of a sow protecting her cubs.
RELATED STORIES: Grizzly Kills Yellowstone National Park Hiker
Image courtesy of National Park Service.