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Natural Resources & Energy

Ground Investigation Into Fatal Grizzly Bear Mauling Ends

Ken Lane via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

The ground investigation of a grizzly attack in the Bridger Teton National Park that left one dead has ended. A female grizzly bear and her yearling — a larger cub — attacked and killed Wyoming hunting guide, Mark Uptain, last Friday, while injuring his client, a Florida resident.

Clothes, empty bear spray canisters, and equipment have all been collected from the scene in the Tetons. Both offending animals have also been killed after snares were set to trap the bears. The sow charged the team investigating the site — the female bear was shot and killed. The yearling was immobilized to ensure it was involved in the incident, and was then euthanized.

Brad Hovinga, a wildlife supervisor with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is transferring all the evidence to a lab in Laramie to do forensic analysis. That includes DNA comparisons to confirm the killed bears were the ones involved.

Hovinga said the investigation did not uncover a solid reason for the bear attack though the hunters were in the midst of dressing an elk.

“The bear could have smelled the scent of the elk which would be completely normal for them to do. For them to come in and be that aggressive with hunters, that is not typical behavior,” he said.

Hovinga added the guide and his client had done nothing to provoke the attack and dealt with it correctly.

“We know bear spray was used at some point after the initial attack, don’t know when it was used. There was evidence of bear spray on the adult female,” he said.

Hovinga said the hunters had not gotten between the mother grizzly and yearling. After forensic analysis is completed, Game and Fish will finalize a report to release. The number of grizzly encounters has stayed the same since last year. The last fatal grizzly attack was in 2015.

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