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Wyoming OSHA Issues $15,000 Fine In Bear Mauling Case

This week, an Idaho environmental surveying company was issued several citations and a $15,000 dollar fine by the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Officials say the company, Nature’s Capital, failed to provide safety equipment or training to an employee who was killed by a bear in Teton National Forest last fall.

OSHA administrator John Ysebaert says Nature’s Capital should have provided bear spray, noise makers and required a trip itinerary. He says while $15,000  isn’t a steep fine, the amount is based on the violation, not on whether it was a fatality.

 “People often get confused on this,” he says. “The amounts are based on the violation and not the outcome of the violation. So if for instance it doesn’t look at did this violation result in a fatality or did it result in bumps or bruises.”

Ysebaert says the amount of the fine is also lower because it’s the company’s first violation and fines go up after each citation.

He says the victim, Adam Stewart, had emailed the company and his family, expressing worry for his own safety, but the company had not responded with better equipment or training to alleviate his concerns.

“The citations, they were that [employees] weren’t provided bear spray, noise making devises. They weren’t required to submit a trip itinerary. And not having and requiring a check-in procedure.”

Ysebaert says Stewart had been hired by Nature’s Capital only the month before to conduct the mapping survey when the attack occurred.   

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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