A female grizzly has been linked by DNA sampling to both of the maulings in Yellowstone National Park this past summer. The grizzly sow was captured with her cubs and was euthanized Sunday morning. Her cubs have been placed at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.
After analyzing of genetic data found in bear hair and scat at the scene on Mary Mountain Trail where hiker John Wallace’s body was recovered August 26, officials linked that genetic date to thata found at the Waipti Lake Trail scene where hiker Brian Matayoshi’s body was discovered July 6.
According to Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, the sow - which was between six and seven years old and 250 pounds - was euthanized to effectively prevent future attacks on visitors.
“Because the DNA analysis indicates the same bear was present at the scene of both fatalities, we euthanized her to eliminate the risk of future interaction with Yellowstone visitors and staff,” Wenk said in a press release Monday.
It is not yet conclusive that the euthanized sow was the only bear responsible or present at either scene. In the August 26 incident, officials concluded that there was much bear activity in the Mary Mountain Trail area, including up to nine bears feeding on two bison carcasses - one being as close as 150 yards to the scene. Seventeen grizzly “daybeds” were also located within the area.
DNA sampling and investigation is still continuing while officials are trying to determine other grizzly activity at either scene.
The two maulings are the first in 25 years within Yellowstone National Park.
While bear and all wild animal attacks are rare, all visitors are still advised to take proper safety precautions on all backcountry excursions and day-trips within the park.