August 28, 2011 in Nation/World

Grizzly’s role in death probed

Rangers unsure if bear killed hiker or found him dead
Associated Press
 

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – Rangers investigated Saturday whether a Michigan man was the victim of a grizzly attack in Yellowstone National Park or if the bear had come upon the hiker’s body after he died.

The man was found Friday by two hikers on the Mary Mountain Trail, which runs northeast of the park’s iconic Old Faithful geyser. Investigators found grizzly bear tracks and scat near the man, but were not immediately sure whether the grizzly caused the man’s death or disturbed his body after he died.

“Bears are opportunistic when it comes to food sources,” Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said. “It’s very clear that there was a bear around the victim’s body. What we don’t know is whether this was a bear attack, or whether the bear came upon this man’s body after he died.”

Authorities say the victim likely died Wednesday or Thursday. Park officials did not plan to name the hiker – a man in his 60s from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – until today, pending family notification.

His death comes after a female bear attacked and killed a 57-year-old California man on the popular Wapiti Lake Trail, several miles away from where the Michigan man was discovered.

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said the hiker in the latest incident was found with a snack bar in his closed backpack, but that it appears the grizzly did not try to get at the food.

Mary Mountain is a 21-mile-long backcountry trail in the central area of the park. It’s closed from March to June because park managers list it as “high-density grizzly bear habitat.”

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