I have retired and no longer posting updates. I highly recommend Dr. Nathan Varleys daily naturalist reports from Yellowstone at www.yellowstonereports.com. Find out what wolf packs are active and viewable, bear activity and locations, any active carcasses, and other wildlife sighting reports.
Past News Articles
Anyone concerned about the continued survival of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states will want to read the following articles, which will give you a greater understanding of just what is at stake.
Yellowstone Park Bear Update (Archives)
The bears of Yellowstone are just starting to show up. Our first sighting was of tracks on Mary Mountain on March 1st. The first official sighting of a real bear and not just tracks was on March 12 at Round Prairie. I am now posting updates on my Facebook page—-Bearmans Yellowstone Outdoor Adventures Facebook Page
Bear Caused Human Deaths for 2010
A Park County Wyoming Sheriff’s Department news release says seventy year-old Erwin Evert of Cody was attacked and killed by a large male grizzly bear in a remote area two miles from the road. Evert was reported missing on June 17th by his wife. It appears the bear had just been captured, tranquilized, and radio collared by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. It was in the Kitty Creek drainage on the Shoshone National Forest near the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
Evert was not carrying bear spray or a firearm. The National Park Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and U.S. Forest Service strongly urge people hiking and hunting in grizzly country to rely on bear spray for protection. When the Park County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue went in to recover Evert’s body, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wardens “provided armed security.”
It’s not known why the grizzly killed Evert. Deliberate predation on humans by grizzly bears is rare. The last predatory incident in the Yellowstone region occurred in 1984, when a grizzly killed Brigitta Fredenhagen of Switzerland. She was on a solo overnight backpacking trip. The bear dragged her from her tent at 10:30 at night, killed her, and consumed considerable soft tissue.
The vast majority of grizzly bear maulings result from people startling a nearby grizzly, which forces the bear to fight or flee. Bear experts emphasize that in these situations, the bear is reacting defensively. Injuries can be severe, but rarely prove fatal.
Officials are searching for the radio-collared grizzly that killed Evert. The fate of the bear has not yet been determined. Typically, bears that react defensively are not put to death.
One man was killed and a man and a woman were injured by bear attacks in the middle of the night on Wednesday July 28, 2010 at a popular campground on the edge of Yellowstone Park, wildlife officials said
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department spokesman Ron Aasheim said it was believed one bear was involved and at least two tents were left in tatters in the attack, which occurred at the height of the tourist season.
“I thought I would be dinner,” said Deb Freele, 58, of London, Ontario, who recalled awakening from a deep sleep in her tent to find a bear chewing on her arm. “Within hundredths of seconds, I felt the teeth in my arm, heard bones breaking. I screamed and that seemed to aggravate him. He sunk his teeth into me again,” she recounted in a telephone interview from her hospital room in Cody, Wyoming. “So I decided to play dead and mean it,” she said, adding that when she did, the bear, which she believed was a grizzly, let go and lumbered away.
Investigators were still trying to determine if the animal was a black bear or a grizzly, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department spokesman Ron Aasheim said. He said the attacks appeared to be unprovoked, and that the presence of food, which often attracts bears and other wildlife into campgrounds, did not appear to be a factor. Such “random predatory” bear attacks on humans are rare, he said.
The last fatal bear attack in Montana was in 2001, when a grizzly mauled and killed a hunter who was dressing out an elk, Aasheim said. Soda Butte, which offers 27 campsites in a national forest known for its blue-ribbon trout fishing, was immediately evacuated and nearby campgrounds were closed after Wednesday’s attacks, he said. The incident occurred at the height of the tourist and camping season in the Gallatin.
Wildlife officials launched an all-out search for the bear, or bears, including the use of airplanes and helicopters on the lookout for radio-collared animals or others in the vicinity. Bear traps also were being set in the campground.
The man killed was described as being middle-aged, but no other information about him was immediately released. Freele, and a man who was not identified were taken to a hospital in Cody, Wyoming, with injuries suffered in separate encounters.
An investigation was under way to piece together events.
“It’s a horrible tragedy,” Aasheim said, adding, “When you’re in bear country, there’s always that potential.”
Tony Latham, a retired conservation officer who has investigated previous bear maulings in the region, said predatory attacks on people are unusual, especially if fatal.
“In my 22 years as an officer in Idaho, there was only one predatory attack, and the person got away by getting into a river,” he said. “I don’t believe there was ever anyone killed in Idaho by a bear in those 22 years.”
Wildlife officials on Thursday were testing the DNA of a captured grizzly bear to confirm if it was the animal that killed a Michigan man and injured two other campers in a rampage near Yellowstone National Park.
The sow, estimated to weigh 300 to 400 pounds, was lured into a trap fashioned from culvert pipe partially covered by pieces of the dead man’s tent. She was left in place overnight Wednesday to attract her young, and by Thursday morning two of her year-old offspring were inside adjacent traps.
The third could be heard nearby through much of the day, calling out to its mother and eliciting heavy groans from the sow, which periodically rattled its steel cage. Wildlife officials were setting traps and exploring other ways of capturing the third cub, which they said could not be allowed to stay in the wild.
Montana wildlife officials identified the man killed in the early Wednesday mauling as Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich. The bear pulled Kammer out his tent at the Soda Butte Campground and dragged him 25 feet to where his body was found, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said
The other victims, Deb Freele of London, Ontario, and an unidentified male, were hospitalized in Cody, Wyo. The male was treated and released, and Freele was scheduled to have surgery Friday for bite wounds and a broken bone in her arm, said West Park Hospital spokesman Joel Hunt.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard said he was confident the killer bear was the one they had captured because it came back to the site of the rampage, which started around 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Sheppard said it was a highly unusual predatory attack, with campers in three different tents mauled as they slept. “She basically targeted the three people and went after them,” Sheppard said. “It wasn’t like an archery hunter who gets between a sow and her cubs and she responds to protect them.”
Officials have said the sow will be killed if DNA evidence confirms it was the same bear that attacked the victims. Aasheim said the test results were expected by Friday. “Everything points to it being the offending bear, but we are not going to do anything until we have DNA samples,” Aasheim said. State and federal wildlife officials will determine the fate of the cubs, which are feared to have learned predatory behavior from their mother.
Freele appeared on network morning shows Thursday to recount waking up just before she was bitten on her arm and leg.
“I screamed, he bit harder, I screamed harder, he continued to bite,” she said, adding that she could hear her bones breaking. “I told myself, play dead,” she said in the interview from the hospital. “I went totally limp. As soon as I went limp, I could feel his jaws get loose and then he let me go.” Freele said the bear was silent. “This, to me, was just an absolutely freaky thing,” she said. “I have to believe that the bear was not normal. It was very quiet, it never made any noise. I felt like it was hunting me.”
The bear attack was the most brazen in the Yellowstone area since the 1980s, wildlife officials said. In 2008 at the same campground, a grizzly bear bit and injured a man sleeping in a tent. A young adult female grizzly was captured in a trap four days later and taken to a bear research center in Washington state.
“The suspicion among a lot of the residents is that the bear they caught (in 2008) was not the right one,” said Gary Vincelette, who has a cabin in nearby Silver Gate. Sheppard, the warden captain, said there was no truth to that.
The grizzly involved in the latest attack showed no outward signs of sickness or starvation that might have explained its unusual behavior, said Fish Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Andrea Jones.
About 600 grizzly bears and hundreds of less-aggressive black bears live in the Yellowstone area. The region is pasted with hundreds of signs warning visitors to keep food out of the bruins’ reach. Experts say bears who eat human food quickly become habituated to people, increasing the danger of an attack. Yet in the case of the Wednesday’s attack, all the victims had put their food into metal food canisters installed at campsite, Sheppard said. “They were doing things right,” he said. “It was random. I have no idea why this bear picked these three tents out of all the tents there.”
The 10-acre Soda Butte Campground in Gallatin National Forest has 27 campsites. Two other campgrounds were also closed while the attacking bear or bears remained at large.
In this latest tragic death there were some things done correctly and some things done incorrectly. The only person in the campground that night to do all of the right things was Ronald Singer, 21, of Alamosa, Col. This male camper reportedly hit the sow several times in the face with his fists after she bit him, driving her off. Encounters with bears in camp at night should be treated differently than chance encounters during the day. Any bear that comes into camp at night and especially one who is actively opening tents is the most dangerous bear in the wild, and has in most cases obtained food items in the past. You have to fight this bear with everything you have and not let up. No matter what specie of bear it is.
Deb Freele, 58, of London, Ontario is very lucky she was not also killed along with Kevin R. Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich. Deb reportedly played dead after being bitten by “a bear”. I believe she was bitten by one of the cubs. Had she been bitten by the adult sow and played dead she would have been killed.
What caused this tragedy? My feeling is that food had been left out by previous campers over a very long period of time. Just by chance, this particular night campers kept a very clean campground with no available food. The sow and cubs entered the campground expecting to find food and when none was found, she and the cubs began entering tents and biting campers.
Timothy Treadwell Incident
After quite a few requests for this information. I have decided to re-post the article I had earlier published on-line regarding the Timothy Treadwell Incident which occurred on October 6, 2003 in Katmai National Park which then became a movie entitled “Grizzly Man”, directed and produced by Werner Herzog, and Lion’s Gate Films.