A Billings, Mont., man was the victim of an attack by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park last week, according to a news release from the park on Monday.
Lance Crosby, 63, was found dead about about noon Friday about a half-mile from the Elephant Back Loop Trail near Lake Village.
Crosby was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park. He had worked and live in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker.
Preliminary results in the ongoing investigation show he was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was partially consumed and covered and the partial tracks at the scene indicate an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were likely involved. Investigators have identified what appear to be defensive wounds on Crosby's forearms. An autopsy is scheduled for later today.
Friday evening, wildlife biologists set bear traps in the area of the attack. One bear was captured overnight and biologists confirmed later it was an adult female grizzly. Traps remain set in the hopes of catching other bears. Biologists have obtained scat samples, paw measurements, and DNA evidence from the bear. This information will be used to determine if the captured bear was the one that attacked Crosby.
If the bear is determined as having been involved, it will be removed from the population and killed.
“The decision to euthanize a bear is one that we do not take lightly," Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said.
"As park managers, we are constantly working to strike a balance between the preservation of park resources and the safety of our park visitors and employees,” Wenk said. “Our decision is based on the totality of the circumstances in this unfortunate event."
Yellowstone has had a grizzly bear management program since 1983 to minimize bear-human interactions, prevent human-caused displacement of bears from prime food sources, and decrease the risk of bear-caused human injuries.
The Elephant Back Loop Trail, Natural Bridge Trail, and the immediate area are closed until further notice.
All of Yellowstone National Park is considered bear country. Hikers are advised to stay on designated trails, travel in groups of three or more people, carry bear spray, be alert for bears, and make noise to help avoid surprise encounters.