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Woman killed in bear encounter

A woman was killed in an encounter with a bear Saturday on the Buttermilk Trail near the town of West Yellowstone.

About 8 a.m. Saturday, game wardens with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks were notified that a hiker had found a woman deceased on the trail, about 8 miles west of West Yellowstone. FWP wardens and bear specialists, along with staff from other agencies, found that the woman had wounds consistent with a bear attack. They also found tracks from an adult grizzly bear and at least one cub near the site. They did not see any bears or signs of a day bed or animal carcass during the investigation.

The Custer Gallatin National Forest implemented an emergency closure of the area as a safety precaution. FWP bear specialists and game wardens notified residents and visitors nearby of the bear activity and the U.S. Forest Service closure. They then began conducting capture operations due to the incident’s proximity to residences, campgrounds and a high-use OHV trail system. No bears have been captured to date. FWP staff also searched the area from an aircraft and did not locate any bears.

The hiker was believed to be alone during the encounter, and no bear spray or firearms were found at the scene. The incident is still under joint investigation by FWP and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

FWP staff express sincere condolences to the family and friends of the hiker who was killed.

FWP thanks the Forest Service, West Yellowstone Police Department, National Park Service, Hebgen Basin Fire, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, and Idaho Fish and Game for their collaboration.

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