A grizzly bear sow and two cubs captured by Yellowstone National Park staff
have been linked to the scene of the recent mauling death of a hiker in the
Hayden Valley. Results from genetic (DNA) tests obtained from bear hair and
scat samples indicate the 250-pound, 6 to 7 year-old sow was present at the
scene on the Mary Mountain Trail where hiker John Wallace’s body was
recovered Aug. 26.
This is the same bear that was responsible for the death of hiker Brian
Matayoshi during a defensive attack on July 6 on the Wapiti Lake Trail.
Rangers and an Interagency Board of Review determined Mr. 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. The sow was euthanized on
Sunday morning, October 2. Grizzly bear cubs typically adapt successfully
to captivity. Adult bears that are removed from the wild do not adapt well
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.
Capture operations, reconnaissance flights, and DNA sampling and testing
will continue through the fall. Any future management decisions will be
made on a case by case basis for any additional bears that are captured and
provide a DNA link to the scene.
Hikers are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on
the trail, and carry bear spray. Visitors are reminded that park
regulations require people to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and
wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other large animals.