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Grizzly bear attack victim identified

Yellowstone National Park has identified the victim of last week’s grizzly bear attack as 63-year-old Lance Crosby of Billings, Montana.

Crosby was found dead around noon Friday about half a mile from the Elephant Back Loop Trail in the Lake Village area of the park.

Crosby was a long-term seasonal employee of Medcor, which operates three urgent care clinics in the park. He had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker.

According to investigators, Crosby was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was found partially consumed and covered. Partial tracks indicated an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the attack.

Crosby had defensive wounds on his forearms. DNA evidence was recovered at the scene and will be used to help identify the bears involved in the attack.

One female bear was captured in a bear trap set in the area overnight Friday. No other bears have been captured and traps remain set.

Biologists have obtained scat samples, paw measurements, and DNA evidence from the bear. That data will be used to determine if the captured bear was the one that attacked Crosby.

If the bear is determined to have been involved, it will be euthanized.

“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.

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 notice to help avoid surprise encounters.

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