Rangers at Yellowstone National Park last month put on their CSI caps while on the hunt for a grizzly bear that killed and ate a hiker.
The remains of Lance Crosby, 68, of Billings, Montana were discovered and showed evidence that he had been attacked and fed upon by a bear. The results of Crosby’s autopsy have not been released, but rangers at Yellowstone are confident that a bear was the culprit based on bear prints found near the scene and tooth marks on the body.
Crosby was an experienced hiker and a regular visitor to Yellowstone. He was found near a popular off-trail area by Elephant Back Loop Trail in Wyoming. It appeared that he had no bear spray with him, which could potentially have driven off his attacker.
Rangers in the area trapped a female bear at the end of the week, and its DNA was sent in and verified. Identified by its DNA and its footprints at the scene, the bear was proven responsible for Crosby’s death. It has since been euthanized, though not for the killing. The bear fed on Crosby, and the park believed that this could put other hikers at risk in the future.
Cub prints were also found near the scene of the incident leading rangers to believe that the bear likely had young nearby. Rangers are currently hoping to find the cubs so they can be appropriately cared for. Yellowstone will attempt to find new homes for them at local zoos because, without a mother, they will have little chance of surviving in the wild.
Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk released a statement not long after the attack, offering his condolences to Crosby’s family and expressing his sincere sadness over the tragedy for Crosby and for the animals lost. In the future, hikers in any state parks would do well to take all possible precautions to protect themselves against wild animal attacks and to be knowledgeable about how to properly respect an animal’s boundaries to prevent further incidents.