A detailed report about the health of a mother grizzly bear that killed one man and mauled two others at a campsite near Yellowstone National Park in July showed the bear suffered from hunger, parasites and was in poor condition.
The 70-page report released on Monday by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the bear was in poor general health and blamed her condition on having to exist on a vegetarian diet. A belly full of parasites further complicated her situation.
The necropsy also found that she was not accustomed to eating human food or pet food and had probably not eaten any for at least two years. This led investigators to conclude the mother bear was not in regular contact with people, which is a common reason for bears to have run-ins with humans.
But while wildlife officials agreed the bear was struggling to feed herself and her cubs, they did not accept that as the specific reason for her aggressive behavior or why she targeted the campers.
“We looked at food habits, body condition of the bear, past behaviors — none of those stand out as a reason that would indicate why this bear would do this,” said team investigation leader Chris Servheen with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The reality is grizzly bears are predators,” said Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “You never know when they’re going to revert to a predatory response.”
The investigation also concluded the bear did not have rabies or other diseases and the campers had done nothing that would accidently lure a bear into their campsite.
The Attack On The Campers
The Associated Press reported the grizzly bear and her cubs had been seen near the Soda Butte Campground near Cooke City at least two other times. There had been rumors from residents that a photographer had been baiting the bears with food. But those rumors were never substantiated.
The attack began at 2 a.m. on July 28 while Ronald Singer, his girlfriend Deb Freele and their dog slept in their tent. They woke up when an “unknown” animal bit Singer’s leg. He punched the animal and it ran off, but fifteen minutes later Freele was bitten on her upper arm. The bear shook her, but then left after she played dead.
The bear apparently moved on to the campsite where Kevin Kammer was sleeping. He was pulled from his tent and killed. The hungry grizzly consumed “a significant portion of Kammer’s torso.”
The mother bear and her cubs were captured the next day at the Soda Butte Campground. DNA tests confirmed her as the attacker and she was euthanized.
Her three cubs are now at the Billings Zoo. They are scheduled to be exhibited to the public this fall.
Kevin Frey, a bear specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said, “She obviously was hurting for higher value foods. What caused her mentally to do that, we don’t know.” There are a lot of bears that are nutritionally challenged at times that don’t exhibit that type of behavior.”
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