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Visitors Discover Dead Grizzly in Yellowstone

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Date: June 7, 2006
Contact: Nash, (307) 344-2010
Contact: Vallie, (307) 344-2012

Necropsy results indicate a grizzly bear found recently along the shores of Yellowstone Lake probably died after being struck by a vehicle.

Visitors reported finding a dead bear along the lake shore between the mouth of Pelican Creek and Storm Point on May 25. The female grizzly was about 10 years old and weighed around 200 pounds. The bear had bitten off part of its tongue and had a broken claw. Drowning was initially suspected as the cause of death.

Staff from the Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Office took the bear to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks lab in Bozeman, Montana for a necropsy. Results show the grizzly died of severe blunt trauma to the left rib cage, internal bruising and bleeding which resulted in asphyxiation. It appears the bear died shortly after being injured.

Rangers did not find any skid marks or debris on the road near where the dead bear was found to indicate a collision had taken place. However, based on the available evidence, bear biologist Kerry Gunther believes the bear was struck by a vehicle, probably along the East Entrance road between Pelican Creek and Fishing Bridge, and died after making its way down to the lake shore to get water.

Anyone with information surrounding the death of this grizzly bear is asked to call the Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132. Callers can remain anonymous.

This is the first grizzly bear death reported in the park since September 2004. Park visitors and employees are encouraged to be especially cautious and to slow down when driving through the park from dusk to dawn or in rain or snow, because it is more difficult to see wildlife under those conditions. Drivers who accidentally strike an animal in the park are asked to report the incident at the nearest ranger station.

Did You Know?

Dog Hooked to Travois for Transporting Goods.

Some groups of Shoshone Indians, who adapted to a mountain existence, chose not to acquire the horse. These included the Sheep Eaters, or Tukudika, who used dogs to transport food, hides, and other provisions. The Sheep Eaters lived in many locations in Yellowstone.