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Man Killed By Grizzly In Yellowstone National Park Identified, Board of Review To Be Convened


Yellowstone National Park officials on Thursday identified the victim of a grizzly bear attack as a 57-year-old Torrence, California, man, and adjusted some of the details of the attack.

Brian Matayoshi was killed in Wednesday morning's attack, while his wife, Marylyn, was briefly picked up by the bear but did not require medical attention, park officials said. The attack occurred about 11 a.m. as the couple was hiking along the Wapiti Lake Trail, which is located off the South Rim Drive south of Canyon Village and east of the park’s Grand Loop Road.

The couple was returning to the trailhead toward their vehicle when, about a mile-and-a-half from the trailhead, came out of the lodgepole pine forest and into a meadow, a park briefing of the incident said.

"It appears that the couple spotted a bear approximately 100 yards away and then began walking away from the bear.  When they turned around to look, they reportedly saw the female grizzly running down the trail at them," the release said. "The couple began running, but the bear caught up with them, attacking Mr. Matayoshi. The bear then went over to Mrs. Matayoshi, who had fallen to the ground nearby. The bear bit her daypack, lifting her from the ground and then dropping her. She remained still and the bear left the area.

"Mrs. Matayoshi then walked back toward the meadow and attempted, without success, to call 911 on her cell phone. She began to shout for help and was heard by a distant group of hikers who were able to contact 911 by cell phone. Two rangers already in the area on backcountry patrol were contacted by the park Communications Center by radio and responded to the scene of the incident."

Mr. Matayoshi had died from "multiple bite and clawing injuries" by the time rangers arrived at the scene at approximately 11:30 a.m., the park statement said. The couple was not carrying any pepper spray, according to park officials.

Rangers immediately closed hiking trails in the area, and a helicopter patrol was used to determine whether there were any other hikers already in the backcountry in that area. None were spotted, and park officials closed the area for the coming days.

"The initial investigation suggests the sow grizzly acted in a purely defensive nature to protect her cubs," the statement said. "This female bear is not tagged or collared, and does not apparently have a history of aggression or human interaction.  Typically, the National Park Service does not trap, relocate, or kill a bear under those circumstances.  A Board of Review, which will include interagency experts, will be convened to review the incident."

The last fatal bear attack in Yellowstone occurred in October 1986 when a 38-year-old photographer, William Tesinsky, was attacked while "stalking" a grizzly in the Otter Creek area of the Hayden Valley, according to park officials who investigated the incident. The Montana man got too close to his subject, former Yellowstone Chief Ranger Dan Sholly wrote in his memoirs from the park, recounting that "before he could even press the shutter release" to snap a shot the bear charged him, mauled him, and partially consumed him.

Previous to that incident, a Swedish woman, Brigitta Fredenhagen, was killed in July 1984 by a grizzly that pulled her out of her tent at a backcountry campsite in the middle of the night. Rangers had warned her about hiking alone in the backcountry, according to Mr. Sholly's account in Guardians of Yellowstone, An Intimate Look at the Challenges of Protecting America's Foremost Wilderness Park.

Despite the large number of visitors who travel to Yellowstone each year, and the hundreds of bears in the region, there are relatively few bear-human incidents, said Mr. Nash. During the past 30 years there has been less than one injury per 1 million visitors to Yellowstone, while back in the 1930s there were roughly 175 injuries per 1 million visitors, he said.


Having just returned from a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, I vote for not killing the  bear.  When entering the park, you recieve a HUGE YELLOW FLYER reminding you to keep away from all animals!  Many trails are closed, with large signs saying "Closed due to bear activity".  We were shocked, and amazed to see many, many, many tourist approaching large male elk and bison, just to get a photo op.  In one case, a father set his darling Chinese daughter down right in front of the bison to get a great photo.  We watched the father take the photo with disbelief.  I am certainly not suggesting that the family who is grieving "asked" for it, however, I think the NPS does an excellent job reminding all visitors that the animals are WILD!

I agree Char! We are leaving for Y-stone day after tomorrow and are excitement level is way high! We "pilgimage" Y-stone every year and the stupidity of tourists never ceases to amaze me! Just when you think you've seen it all! I remember one year at the Mud Volcano area walking the boardwalk and there was a herd of bison all over the hillside. People were letting their kids run ahead of them with no supervision. The Mama Bison were on the uphill side of the boardwalk and their calves were on the downhill side. No way would I want to be in the middle of that! We waited until the herd moved on and then proceded! "Can't fix stupid!"

We just returned from a trip to Yellowstone on July 21st. The trail that the grizzly and the couple were on are still closed. They are not allowing parking or hiking in that area. We hiked a few trails...ones that are pretty heavily used. So we were not alone at anytime, there was constant  movement of people on these trails. We never saw any animals while hiking. Probably, because my family is loud and because they were busy trails. I am guessing if you took a back country trail you would be more likely to see wildlife. We saw plenty of wild life from the safety of our car, even bears! I wouldn't worry about going to Yellowstone with children but I would be aware and take precautions if you are planning on doing any hiking especially on less traveled, backcountry trails. We saw a lot people getting out of their cars and heading towards the wildlife to take pictures (something that is advised against by the Rangers). For example: there are more people mauled by buffalo then bear each year and still people were approaching these animals on foot to take pictures. Common sense is definitely needed with wildlife. I also believe the bear was instinctual when it came to protecting her young. It is very sad and unfortunate. Yellowstone is beautiful...I wouldn't shy away from it because of this. Just be "Bear Aware" as they say in the park. 

You finally got it right when you noted that Yellowstone is a wild and unpredictable. You know the rules going in. Thank God we have some of these places left. Killing a grizzly for reacting instinctively on its home turf would mean this is no longer wilderness. Those of us who hike regularly in Yellowstone understand that we — and our loved ones — could meet the same fate should we be ill-prepared and have the misfortune of being that 1-in-3,000,000. We also understand that we are FAR more likely to die in a car or even plane crash en route to Yellowstone, that we are FAR more likely to die falling off a cliff or drowning or being hit by lightning, and that we are FAR more likely to be shot by some yahoo brandishing a gun in the park for no other reason than he can.

I am hearing rumors here in the Yellowstone area that the man purposely stepped between the bear and it's cub to capture a picture of the bear standing.  Is there anyone out there with connections that could verify this account?


"Obviously" yes, they had been hunted to near extinction "in the lower 48."  Unless 98% of lost range doesn't count as "near."  Anyway, I assumed you were speaking ironically--hunting grizzlies with the aim of preventing attacks on humans in the national parks makes little sense.

I go hiking locally with  my 12 yr old son knowing we have bears and Mountain Lions. We  each have a can of bear spray and I also carry a 9mm on my side just incase.  I DON'T want to kill or even hurt any animal but if it comes between myself , son or the animal then as a mother I will try protect us. That bear was doing what she thought she needed to do to keep her cub(s) safe. If only they have had the spray things might have turned out diffrently. I'm praying for the family..I believe there is no fault here.

This is another case of surprising a momma bear with her cubs.  I believe it is foolish to travel in bear inhabited wilderness without bear spray....Also, none of the articles I have read so far say anything about if they were making noise to alert any bears so they wouldnt surprise one. So they possibly made 3 major mistakes here1) Traveling without bear spray, 2) Not making noise continuously, 3) Running from the bear( It could have been a bluff warning charge, but when they ran the bears' instinct to catch them kicked in). The wife did the right thing by laying face down as though she was no longer a threat to the bear or its cubs. The man might still be alive if he had done the same thing.  Another thought that would definitely be a viable option to alert the bears you are approaching them, would be to carry just a cheap tamberine; tapping it while you walk. It is much louder than the bear bells they sell and is really cheap insurance to help prevent startleling a bear. These parks were set up to protect the animals from commercial interests and you have to remember that its the only home they have left now.  Also, these places are very wild and remote areas and when you go out in these areas without using proper procedures then you are inviting disaster upon yourself and your family.  Your just another animal to them posing a possible threat.  Do your bear safety research before you enter wiid places like this. If Bears really wanted to attack people then there would be deaths all over the US. and Canada everyday.  But its just not so. Most attacks and deaths occur because someone didnt go by the rules and was unprepared just in case a bear did charge them.  You cant blame the bears really, as they have no where else to go. We have taken away most of their habitat.

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