Results from genetic (DNA) tests obtained from bear hair and scat samples indicate the sow, between 6 and 7 years old and weighing 250 pounds, was present at the scene on the Mary Mountain Trail where Wallace’s body was recovered August 26. According to Yellowstone officials in a press release, this is the same bear responsible for the death of Matayoshi during a defensive attack on July 6 on the Wapiti Lake Trail.
Rangers and an Interagency Board of Review determined Matayoshi’s death near Canyon Village on the Wapiti Lake Trail resulted from a defensive attack by the sow protecting her cubs.
“We will more than likely never know what role, if any, the sow might have played in Mr. Wallace’s death due to the lack of witnesses and presence of multiple bears at the incident scene,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk. “But because the DNA analysis indicates the same bear was present at the scene of both fatalities, we euthanized her to eliminate the risk of future interaction with Yellowstone visitors and staff.”
The adult female grizzly was captured on Wednesday, September 28. Her two cubs were captured Thursday, September 29 and placed in the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. After DNA testing, the sow was euthanized on Sunday morning, October 2. Grizzly bear cubs typically adapt successfully to captivity.
In the Wallace incident, Yellowstone officials determined that at least nine grizzly bears were feeding on two bison carcasses in the area, including one carcass which was located 150 yards from where Mr. Wallace was hiking alone on the Mary Mountain Trail. Seventeen bear “daybeds” were also found in the same vicinity. A search for these bears will continue through the fall.
Image of Yellowstone grizzly bear — not the killer — courtesy of National Park Service.