Authorities Investigating Fatal Grizzly Attack West of Yellowstone N.P.
Authorities are trying to determine what happened when a woman had a fatal run-in with a grizzly bear over the weekend, an attack that happened outside of Yellowstone National Park.
In a Facebook post, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks reported the woman's body was discovered on the Buttermilk Trail west of West Yellowstone on Saturday morning. Investigators went to the scene and determined she had encountered a bear, based on the tracks around the scene.
Now, investigators will have to determine the circumstances of the attack and are expected to be tracking the bear involved in the attack.
In the meantime, the Custer Gallatin National Forest has issued an emergency closure of the Buttermilk area of the Hebgen Ranger District to keep other hikers safe. That area is about 8 miles west of West Yellowstone. The closure will impact hikers along the Continental Divide Trail, which will have to detour around the closure. The closure extends from near Targhee Pass on Highway 20 and south to adjacent Forest Service roads.
Although this attack was outside the park, it would be the first fatal grizzly attack in the Yellowstone area since August 2015, when a day hiker was killed by a grizzly sow with two cubs near Lake Village. Another attack, in August 2011, also involved a solo hiker who was killed by a grizzly in the Hayden Valley.
The park notes for all park visitors combined, the odds of being injured by a grizzly are about 1 in 2.7-million visits. But the risk is much higher for people outside developed areas, as high as 1 in 232,613 "person travel days."