The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have released over 200 pages of information regarding the August 2015 grizzly bear attack.
As you’ll recall, a grizzly sow killed hiker Lance Crosby in early August. His body was found off-trail in the Elephant Back Loop Trail area near Lake Village. The sow was later euthanized after DNA evidence linked her to the incident. Her two cubs (female grizzly twins) were sent to the Toledo Zoo shortly afterward. The incident drew condemnation from various quarters, especially since some area photographers and wildlife enthusiasts contended the sow was a well known “road bear” nicknamed Blaze.
The bulk of new information surrounding the incident is taken up by a report from the National Park Service. You can find the 171-page report here.
The other two documents are a 35-page report and a three-page recommendation list. Each were written by a “board of review” comprising members of state wildlife agencies, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, and Yellowstone National Park representatives.
Note: although each report contains photos of the scene, each has had the gory details obscured/censored so as not to traumatize readers.
Prominent among the report’s conclusions is the fact that the bear (identified as bear #201518 in a necropsy) “did not reveal any injuries, condition, or disease that would have contributed to her attack on Mr. Crosby or her consumption of his body.” The report also outlines the impetus behind putting down the grizzly after it was captured, and why the cubs were relocated. From the BOR report:
The primary reason these bears were removed from the wild is the killing and consumption of a human. The objective of removing the adult female grizzly bear and two cubs that were involved in the fatal attack and consumption of Mr. Crosby within hours of his death was to prevent these bears from killing and consuming another human in the future. Bears are an intelligent, highly adaptable species that quickly learn to exploit new food sources, especially foods that are easily obtained and contain concentrated sources of fat and protein. Since bears readily learn new foods and remember the locations, circumstances, and foods that are available, the possibility of these bears preying on people in the future could not be ruled out.
The recommendation list reiterated several hiking guidelines in bear country (don’t hike alone, carry bear spray, be noisy, don’t run, stay aware of your surroundings). The report also compared Mr. Crosby’s death to four other grizzly-related fatalities in Yellowstone National Park since 2010. In each case, according to the recommendation list, the hikers killed were not carrying bear spray.
The recommendation list also recognized that, on average, most hikers in Yellowstone National Park don’t follow base guidelines for hiking in bear country, a point that bears repeating so hikers “can reduce the risk of injury or death due to bear encounters.”