News Release

Visitor injured by a grizzly bear while hiking near Fairy Falls; Always hike in groups of three or more

hiking trail through the woods
Hiking trail through whitebark pines

NPS/Diane Renkin

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News Release Date: June 24, 2020

Contact: Morgan Warthin, (307) 344-2015

  • On the morning of June 22, 2020, a woman, age 37, from Columbia, Missouri, sustained a minor injury from a female grizzly bear while hiking on the Fairy Falls Trail near Old Faithful. 
  • The visitor was hiking alone when she encountered two grizzly bears at very close range. The female bear knocked the woman down, and she sustained a scratch on her thigh. When the visitor fell to the ground, she also received minor injuries to her face. She later declined medical attention. 
  • The hiker attempted to use her bear spray.   
  • Following the incident, the Fairy Falls Trail was cleared of hikers. The trail and surrounding area has been temporarily closed.  
  • “From the injured person’s statements, this appears to be a typical case of a mother grizzly bear protecting her offspring following a close-range encounter,” said bear management biologist Kerry Gunther. “Because this bear was displaying natural protective behavior for its cub, no action will be taken against the bear. Several trails in the area will be closed to give the grizzly family group time to clear from the area.”  
  • This is the first incident of a bear injuring a visitor in Yellowstone in 2020. The last time a bear injured a visitor in the park was in June 2019, when a black bear bit into an occupied tent and bruised a woman’s thigh.  
  • Protect yourself and bears while you hike in bear country
    • Hike in groups of three or more people 
    • Carry bear spray and know how to use it 
    • Be alert and make noise 
    • Stay out of areas that are closed for bear management 
    • Don’t hike at dawn, dusk, or at night when grizzly bears are most active 
    • If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal  
  • Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals - bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves.  
  • This incident is under investigation. There is no additional information to share, and there are no known images of the incident. 

Last updated: March 13, 2024

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