Rangers have determined a female grizzly with at least one cub or yearling was responsible for yesterday’s Yellowstone bear attack, but no further action will be taken.
As you’ll recall, a family of four from Washington state was hiking on the Divide Trail, southeast of Old Faithful, today when they encountered a bear around 10 a.m. When the bear charged out of vegetation a half mile up the trail, the 10-year-old boy ran and was overtaken by the bear, who knocked the boy to the ground. Before the bear could seriously injure the boy, parents sprayed the bear about five feet from its face, and the spray stopped the Yellowstone bear attack. The bear then left the area.
Law enforcement and bear management staff examined tracks at the scene and determined that it likely the family startled the female grizzly, who was foraging in the area, and with a cub or yearling on the scene, the female went into defensive mode.
Park rangers do not intend to search for the bear since this incident was a surprise encounter with a female grizzly bear defending its cub.
“This incident could have been more serious. We applaud the family for traveling in a group, carrying bear spray, and knowing how to effectively use it during their emergency,” said Yellowstone National Park Deputy Superintendent Pat Kenney. “We wish their son a full recovery from his injuries.”
After hiking back down the trail to the Old Faithful Ranger Station, rangers there directed the family to a nearby clinic, where the boy was treated for an injured wrist, puncture wounds to the back and wounds around the buttocks. He was transferred to the Big Sky Medical Center.
The Divide and Spring Creek trails remain temporarily closed. They will reopen after the trails have been inspected for recent bear activity.
This reinforces what hikers are repeatedly told: all of Yellowstone is bear country, and investing in bear spray is always a good investment. Bears do not seek out human interaction, with the recommendation that you stand your ground and do not run if confronted by a bear.
Interestingly, there has not been a reported incident between a bear and a hiker since 2015.
The photo above is not of the grizzly in question; it’s a file photo of a grizzly and her cub.
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