Yellowstone Grizzly Victim Identified

A grizzly bear killed a Michigan man whose body was found by hikers last week in Yellowstone National Park, officials said earlier today (August 29).

Grizzly bears are powerful, top-of-the-food-chain predators, yet much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots. Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose. (Credit: talktocanada.com)

The victim was identified as John Wallace of Chassell, Michigan.

Wallace’s body was discovered along a trail about five miles from the nearest trailhead. Results of an autopsy concluded that he died as a result of traumatic injuries from a bear attack, reported the Associated Press.

It is the second time a visitor to the park has been killed by a bear this year.

Authorities say Wallace likely died Wednesday or Thursday.

He was traveling alone and had pitched a tent in a campground on Wednesday, park officials said. Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk has previously said that the hiker was found with a snack bar in his closed backpack, but that it appears the grizzly did not try to get at the food.

“We know of no witnesses to the event at all,” Wenk said today. “As far as we know, he was in good health and out enjoying the park.”

Grizzly bears have a distinctive muscular shoulder hump, and the claws on the front paws are large, strong and slightly curved. (Credit: edu.pe.ca)

Two trails and a section of the Hayden Valley west of Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road have been closed to hikers. Park officials asked hikers elsewhere in the park to stay on the trails, to hike in groups of three or more and carry bear spray.

Wallace’s death comes after a female bear attacked and killed a 57-year-old California man in July on the popular Wapiti Lake Trail, several miles away from where the Michigan man’s body was discovered Friday.

The female bear was not killed because officials said the sow was only defending its cubs and had not threatened humans before.

Rangers found grizzly tracks and scat, or bear droppings, near Wallace’s body.

The Mary Mountain Trail is closed from March to June because park managers list it as “high-density grizzly bear habitat.”

Park employees have been searching for the bear around the Mary Mountain Trail northeast of Old Faithful. That’s the area where hikers discovered Wallace’s body on Friday.

Traps have been set to try to capture the bear. Wenk said it would be killed if it can be linked

Bear Safety

The long guard hairs on their backs and shoulders often have white tips and give the bears a grizzled appearance, hence the name grizzly. (Credit: firstpeople.us)

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

Bears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. The rule about bears is their unpredictability.

Note: A two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety was previously posted.

Worth Pondering…
Alive, the grizzly is a symbol of freedom and understanding—a sign that man can learn to conserve what is left of the earth. Extinct, it will be another fading testimony to things man should have learned more about but was too preoccupied with himself to notice. In its beleaguered condition, it is above all a symbol of what man is doing to the entire planet. If we can learn from these experiences, and learn rationally, both grizzly and man may have a chance to survive.
—Frank Craighead, Track of the Grizzly, 1979

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