Grizzly bear in Yellowstone. Photo by Jake Davis.
Published August 10, 2015
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK—A 63-year old man from Billings, Montana, has been identified as the victim of last week’s grizzly bear attack in Yellowstone. Around noon on Friday, August 7, Lance Crosby was found dead approximately .5 miles from the Elephant Back Loop Trail in a popular off-trail area in the Lake Village area of the park. Crosby was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park. He had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker.
The investigation into Crosby’s death continues, but the preliminary results show that he was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, and partial tracks at the scene indicate that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the attack. While the exact cause of death has not been determined, investigators have identified what appear to be defensive wounds on Crosby’s forearms. DNA evidence was recovered at the scene and will be used to help identify the bear/s involved. A forensic autopsy is scheduled for later today.
Wildlife biologists set bear traps in the area of the attack on Friday evening. One bear was captured during the overnight hours and biologists confirmed later that it was an adult female grizzly. To date, no other bears have been captured and traps remain set in the hopes of catching other bears that are in the area. Biologists have obtained scat samples, paw measurements, and DNA evidence from the bear and this information will be used to determine if the captured bear was the one that attacked Crosby and partially consumed his body. If the bear is determined as having been involved, it will be removed from the population through euthanasia.
“The decision to euthanize a bear is one that we do not take lightly. 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,” said Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. “Our decision is based on the totality of the circumstances in this unfortunate event. Yellowstone has had a grizzly bear management program since 1983. The primary goals of this program are to minimize bear-human interactions, prevent human-caused displacement of bears from prime food sources, and to decrease the risk of bear-caused human injuries.”
The Elephant Back Loop Trail, Natural Bridge Trail, and the immediate area is 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.