Matayoshi, and his wife Marylyn, were hiking on the Wapiti Lake Trail, located off the South Rim Drive, south of Canyon Village and east of the park’s Grand Loop Road, when they encountered a grizzly sow and her two cubs.
Here’s the account of the incident from a Yellowstone press release:
The couple was hiking west back toward their vehicle. At approximately 11:00 a.m., at a point about a mile and a half from the trailhead, they walked out of a forested area into an open meadow. It appears that the couple spotted a bear approximately 100 yards away and then began walking away from the bear. When they turned around to look, they reportedly saw the female grizzly running down the trail at them. The couple began running, but the bear caught up with them, attacking Mr. Matayoshi. The bear then went over to Mrs. Matayoshi, who had fallen to the ground nearby. The bear bit her daypack, lifting her from the ground and then dropping her. She remained still and the bear left the area.
Mrs. Matayoshi then walked back toward the meadow and attempted, without success, to call 911 on her cell phone. She began to shout for help and was heard by a distant group of hikers who were able to contact 911 by cell phone. Two rangers already in the area on backcountry patrol were contacted by the park Communications Center by radio and responded to the scene of the incident.
Mr. Matayoshi received multiple bite and clawing injuries, and was dead when rangers arrived at the scene at approximately 11:30 a.m.
Rangers immediately closed the hiking trails in the area. A subsequent helicopter patrol of the area failed to turn up any other hikers or backpackers. This small section of the park’s backcountry is expected to remain closed for several days.
Because it appears the sow acted in a defensive nature to protect her cubs, National Park Service officials will not be searching for her, especially as she does not apparently have a history of aggression or human interaction. A Board of Review which will
include interagency experts will be convened to review the incident, which surely will note this this is a very unusual incident. Other reports have some slightly different details, including the couple encountering the bear twice on the same hike.
Image courtesy of National Park Service.