Hiker killed in grizzly bear attack in Yellowstone

Lance Crosby was hiking in Yellowstone National Park last week when he was attacked by a grizzly. The 63-year-old from Billings, Montana was hiking alone, off-trail and didn’t have bear spray.

But the park doesn’t want anyone to blame the victim in this case.

“This attack occurred less than a mile from employee residences in an area frequented by people. All of Yellowstone is grizzly habitat, from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful. Where you hike (on or off-trail) should not affect your approach to bear safety.” the park service noted in a Facebook post.

Lance Crosby, of Billings, Mont./National Parks Service.
Lance Crosby, of Billings, Mont., was killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone/National Parks Service

His body was discovered last Friday, but autopsy results only positively identified him this week.

An adult female bear with cubs were spotted at the attack site when park rangers found – and removed – Crosby’s body.

The adult female was identified as the attacker both from puncture wounds found on the victim that were consistent with her bite size as well as DNA analysis of bear hair found next to Crosby’s body. The bear was captured within 24 hours and was euthanized yesterday based on the circumstances.

“An important fact in the decision to euthanize the bear was that a significant portion of the body was consumed and cached with the intent to return for further feeding. Normal defensive attacks by female bears defending their young do not involve consumption of the victim’s body,” the park said in a statement.

The bear’s two cubs will not be abandoned. Arrangements are being made to transfer them to a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Grizzly sow and cubs/Jim Peaco/Yellowstone National Park

“As managers of Yellowstone National Park, we balance the preservation of park resources with public safety,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement. “Our decision takes into account the facts of the case, the goals of the bear management program, and the long term viability of the grizzly bear population as a whole, rather than an individual bear.”

Trails that were closed, Elephant Back Loop and Natural Bridge, will be reopened today.

Grizzly bear/Neal Herbert/Yellowstone National Park

Hikers need to remember a few things before venturing out in bear country.

  • Travel in groups of three or more
  • Carry bear spray that can be used in a pinch
  • Make noise
  • Be alert for bears

Yellowstone asked that people stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards from all other large animals.

Photos Yellowstone National Park/Flickr


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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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