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The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time

On June 17th a hiker's dead body was found along the Kitty Creek Trail in Wyoming, just 10 miles east of Yellowstone National Park. Authorities discovered the body while responding to an unconfirmed fatal bear mauling.

A few days have passed since I started this article, and as much as it pains me to tell you this, it is now confirmed a Grizzly Bear is to blame. Or is it?

Seventy year-old Botanist Erwin Evert of Cody, Wyoming was attacked and killed by a large male grizzly in a remote section of the Kitty Creek Trail, approximately two miles from the road. Mr. Evert was either unaware of the fact that a group from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team had recently left the area after tranquilizing and collaring a large male, or he blatantly ignored posted warning signs. Who knows if we'll ever get all the details, or if the suspected Grizz is even the culprit. I can't help, but sit here and think about how this bear got darted, was pissed off, could hear, smell, possibly see the study team before he passed out. The team gets their samples, collars the bear, and departs from the area. Later that afternoon/evening the bear wakes (how would you feel if you were just hanging out at your local spot and all of the sudden you get tranquilized) and soon sees Mr. Evert moseying down the trail. The last encounter with people didn't work out so well for the big furry quadruped, and it now has an unfashionable collar and the sting from a dart as a reminder. I'm not saying it went down like this at all, but I'm not saying it didn't either. Could the Study Team have done more for Mr. Evert. Were trails really closed? Was Mr. Bear monitored waking up? Was Erwin Evert rolling the dice? Maybe the team did everything right, maybe it's just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The facts don't change though, and a man is dead.

There are signs like the one pictured above in areas where it is deemed unsafe. There are other kinds of signs also, like the seasons for example. Bears just recently woke up from hibernation, and are hungry. What do bears eat, is it in the area? Keep an eye out for tracks as well as scat. Bear predation upon humans is very rare however, it's survival of the fittest out there. The strongest survive and they do it well, hunting, foraging, mating, and being territorial. The old, the sick, and the injured can't keep up, they're starving and you're fair game. If you're looking for an example of this Google Timothy Treadwell, or check out the movie The Grizzly Man .

Only Timothy Treadwell knows what Timothy Treadwell was doing with the brown bears in Alaska, and it's questionable that he even knew. He was something of a different kind, and would deliberately put himself in dangerous situations. As for Yellowstone, the last predatory incident amongst bears and people in the region occurred in 1984. Brigitta Fredenhagen of Switzerland was soloing in the backcountry. She was dragged from her tent sometime during the night and killed. The last fatal mauling took place in 1986, when photographer William Tesinsky got a little too close to a female grizzly in Hayden Valley. If you've ever been to Yellowstone, you've witnessed how dumb people can be, how close they get to the wildlife, and what a great job the Rangers, the DOW, and other agencies like the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team are really doing. Hats off to them! Warning signs are posted for a reason, please respect them. If you see someone doing something wrong correct them, or you're just as wrong. Be good to yourself and each other.




  • http://www.pikespeakleavenotrace.org Kristen

    OMG. Don’t even get me started with this… I completely agree with you. Odds are the bear was alrady wigged out, and then maybe this guy simply came around a blind corner and startled the bear, who had just had a really bad day with people and this time decided to fight rather than try to fly and get tranq’d again.

    Did you know that statistically, most bear attacks are caused by people surprising a bear, and the bear feeling cornered or threatened? The 2nd biggest cause is retards getting too close on purpose, i.e. taking pictures, leaving food out, etc. It’s also interesting to note that lots of the tranqs they use on animals are KNOWN to make them aggressive for a period after they wake. In the 80s, there was a series of encounters just like this one, and they determined that the substance they were using to dart the bears was PCP, frikking Angel Dust!!! No wonder the bears were having aggressive psychotic reactions.

    Anyway, thanks for posting. Sad that now multiple bears will probably be killed, one for the death of the guy and others because the people in the area are now scared and may shoot on sight.

    I am teaching a bear country class every Saturday at 4 p.m. at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in case anyone wants to know more about living with Black Bears. Free, just need a parks pass.

  • http://upadowna.com Yeti

    Kristen–They were giving the bears Angel Dust…..for FREE????? Damn hair band 80’s rockers, I bet now they are getting either pot or meth…or both!!

  • Shantal Murphy

    Just because a person who is killed by a grizzly and has a camera doesn’t mean they were stalking and taking pictures of them. In the case of Tesinsky, he was less than 400 yards from the road no pictures of the bear were on his camera when they investigated, and the bear that killed Tesinsky was tranquilized with it’s 2 cubs and relocated. Not only was it tranquilized this time but 4 other times before this. None of the rangers monitored the bear and her cubs to make sure when they awoke they would be near each other. Instead when the bear (The Mother Bear) woke and discovered that her 2 cubs had already wondered off away from her she went looking. She went back to the spot they came from looking for her cubs. Do you think she was mad? I’m sure she was pissed. Why don’t you all have some compation for the people who lose loved ones instead of finding blame in them. Why not be angry at the way bears are handled. Leave them alone, and leave your opinions about the deceased to yourself. You weren’t there and you don’t know what happened.

  • Bunny

    It’s a horrible tragedy Shantal. I’m not trying to take anything from that. I truly apologize if my words offended you or anyone else. That was never my intentions. People in general get to close to bears all the time. The loss of life we can’t change, but we can hope to prevent further incidents from happening through awareness. To be completely honest with you, I am angry with how bears are handled. I don’t think it’s right at all. The last incident really touches that. I assure you I don’t blame the victims. There are too many circumstances involved that none of us will ever know all the details, unless we can read a bear’s mind. In the post I wrote “as much as it pains me to tell you this, it is now confirmed a Grizzly Bear is to blame. Or is it?” That’s why it’s the WILDerness. This post wasn’t intended to bash the deceased by any means. I think Timothy Treadwell was a little nuts, but that doesn’t mean I think he deserved to die, or his work wasn’t beautiful. When I state “how dumb people can be” that doesn’t mean everyone is. Tesinsky was a photographer, he wasn’t trying to pet the bears. That’s more of what I was referring to, and the amateur clickers that will push the safety boundaries. Ignorance is always amongst us. I’m sorry for not making a clear enough distinction, thank you for making that point clear to me. You are right though, I wasn’t there. But I did use fatal bear attack information that was provided. You hit on my thoughts exactly with bears being monitored when they awake. I do think they did a poor job, but again I wasn’t there. I feel that the loss of life for the person as well as the bear could have been easily avoided, but obviously it wasn’t. It’s a terribly sad lesson. All we can hope to do is make people aware of incidents like this and hope it will cause prevention in the future. Thank you for your comment. I will work harder to make sure my points come across more clearly. Again, I am truly sorry for offending you. Please try to see the true intentions of my post, and know that there was no malicious intent behind it. Thank you for your time.

  • Shantal Murphy

    Thanks for the response. Tesinsky was my father and the stories are horrific. It is a constant reminder every turn we make to hear and read that my dad was ignorant. The truth is he was an avid outdoorsman a kind, giving man who taught his family the true beauty of the outdoors. Never taking from it anything that was not necessary. I think if anyone truly saw the spot my dad was killed in you would question the investigation reports. I just wish there would be some honesty on the part of bear managment. Someone really needs to look into it.