Montana Woman Mauled to Death by Grizzly Bear While Hiking Near Yellowstone National Park

The incident occurred at a time when Montana's grizzly bear population is on the rise, leading to an increase in bear sightings in the area.

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A woman was found dead on a hiking trail in Montana on Saturday after coming into contact with a grizzly bear west of Yellowstone National Park. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported that the woman's body was found after an apparent encounter with a bear, as investigators identified grizzly bear tracks at the location.

The department released a statement confirming that the unidentified woman's lifeless body was discovered close to West Yellowstone, a town located in the Custer Gallatin National Forest, which is situated just west of the renowned Yellowstone National Park. Park rangers issued an emergency closure of the popular hiking area where the woman's body was found.

Fatal Attack

Grizzly bear
Researchers are using AI-powered facial recognition technology to identify and monitor grizzly bears (represnetational image) Wikimedia Commons

The department stated that the investigation into the grizzly bear attack was still underway, marking the most recent incident of wild animal attacks during this summer. While the department's statement suggested that the woman's death resulted from her encounter with the bear, it did not officially confirm the cause of her death.

The incident occurred at a time when Montana's grizzly bear population is on the rise, leading to an increase in bear sightings in the area.

Last week, the department issued a news release alerting the public that grizzly bear sightings have been confirmed across the state, "particularly in areas between the Northern Continental Divide and the Great Yellowstone ecosystems."

Authorities urged campers and park visitors to carry bear spray, properly store their food, and dispose of garbage properly.

Last week, a 47-year-old woman named Amber Harris was gored by a bison during a visit to Yellowstone, resulting in seven spinal fractures, significant chest and abdomen injuries, and two collapsed lungs.

The incident disrupted her fiancé's original plan to propose during the trip, and he ended up proposing while she was recovering in the hospital.

"So my love got down on one knee beside my hospital bed last night and formally asked me to be his wife. Without any hesitation I said 'yes!'"

The recent bear attack was the second incident in just a few days to occur at National Parks. Prior to this, a woman was gored by a bison at a park in North Dakota.

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Harris shared updates to her friends and family via a Facebook post from her hospital bed, sharing two important pieces of information. "We've been planning this vacation to Yellowstone NP for about a year. So excited to spend quality time with Chris Whitehill and my daughter Rylee Eckblad. We woke up our first morning and walked down to the lodge for some coffee then decided take a walk through a field to get to Yellowstone Lake," wrote Harris.

"There were a few other people and about 20 elk roaming around so we waited for them to clear before walking through the field. About halfway to the water we noticed 2 bison. 1 on the path we were walking and the other in the opposite direction. We stopped and looked at the massive beast, about 50 yards away on the trail, hidden at first in the shadows of the tress.

"We watched him drop and roll in the dirt, like a dog would. He got up on his feet and started walking then running towards us.

"I was carried out of the field on a stretcher to an ambulance and then transferred to a helicopter for a life flight to Idaho. Pain meds, CT, MRI and I sustained seven spine fractures, bilateral collapsed lungs and bruising all over. Glory to God all my vital organs look good," she further wrote.

Harris's boyfriend, Chris, had originally planned to propose to her during their outdoorsy vacation. However, due to the unforeseen circumstances of the attack, Chris improvised and proposed to her in her hospital room instead.

In Saturday's attack, the unnamed woman was transported to a hospital in Fargo and was reported to be in serious but stable condition.

The first attack is currently being investigated, and specific details are yet to be shared. Park authorities issued a reminder to visitors about the nature of bison, emphasizing that they are large, powerful, and wild animals that can quickly change direction and easily outrun humans.

Bulls can exhibit aggressive behavior during the rutting season from mid-July through August. Park rules mandate that visitors maintain a distance of at least 25 yards from large animals.

The National Park Service provides a comprehensive guide to help visitors safeguard themselves from encounters with animals during their visits.