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.

Comments

Wow, I hate hearing about anyone losing their life in one of our Parks. I think about all the excitement and anticiaption that goes into OUR own trips and I'm sure that they never expected for this to have the outcome it did. My sympathies to the family...

My husband and I have planned an impromtu trip to Yellowstone July 29th through Aug-6th and we were contemplating a couople of hikes in this very system, Ribbon Lake and Clear Lake. We decided last week to do "7 Mile Hole" instead. As we do on all of our hikes we will be Bear Aware and take the necessary precautions (packing Bear Spray).

Bears and wolves are the star attractions at Yellowstone, everyone hopes to see one. I am glad to hear that the Park has no intention of removing this bear who after all, was only being a bear.

I think we need to shoot that bear since it's aggressive and will only cause further harm to people. I do recall someone once saying that bears have no good in our wilderness other than attacking humans, and this truly has been the case here. Trap the bear and kill it.

Of course the bear should live. I hate the tragic incident. I am betting that a person that was willing to hike in Yellowstone would also have wanted the bear to live. This earth has need for all species. The narrow view expressed in the earlier comment shows a need for a wider understanding of the entire world environment. We have left too little space to the wild animals. If we choose to invade that last small space of wilderness we take the risk that these people took. Tragic, but true.

My wife and I will be traveling to Yellowstonw in Aug--- I just ordered our bear spray from Cabela's!! This grizzly should be left alone of course--- hopfully we'll have the fortune to see a grizz on our trip.It's what Yellowstone is all about. If you are worried about being killed in a national Park then go to Disney World

The bear should live. Unfortunate out come for this couple. They turned and ran away from a charging bear.

This was a terrible tragedy. That said, I thoroughly disagree with Asus' comments, above.

This is a great tragedy! I am torn…I really don’t know what the fate of the bear should be. I am not pro killing wildlife but on the other hand this bear did take the life of a human being and from the details in this article it appears that the couple did not do anything to provoke the bear other than stumble upon it. Some of the comments I have read on this story are so disrespectful to the family. I am not calling for the park service to go out and string the bear up but after all it did kill a human with what appears to be little reason other than she had cubs and was surprised. Let me ask you this…would you be happy if this bear killed one of your loved ones…would you call it the cycle of life!?

As an avid lover of the national parks and hiking I am touched by this story. My family and I are planning a trip to Yellowstone in two weeks and with both a 1 year old and 3 year old it concerns me that we could stumble upon such a fate by no fault of our own. This just confirms to me that we all need to keep in mind that we are indeed in wild places and this wilderness is cruel and survival of the fittest is the law that governs the wild. My prayers go out to his family and my family and I will definitely carry bear spray after reading this incident.

If
you choose to go into the Yellowstone backcountry, anything, not near a
lodge please purchase and learn how to use bear spray. It is cheap,
about 40.00, and available at many of the stores in the park and
effective. It is not harmful either.
Within 30 minutes the bear is back to normal. It just gives you time to
defuse the situation and get back to Roosevelt bar with a great story
and a beating heart.

It would be absurd to kill this bear, period. We're not talking about a bear that has been desensitized to humans by raiding trash dusmpsters and camp sites and acting aggressively against humans. This is nature at its most basic, a sow Grizzly feeling the need to protect her cubs.

Life is full of risks. Every time you get in your vehicle you run the risk of being in an accident that could injure you or even worse, take your life. It doesn't even have to be your fault, either way, same outcome. Where is the outcry and outrage over the thousands of people that lose their lives on our highways? One bear fatality in 25 years, over 3 million visitors to Yellowstone last year alone and there are people who think this bear sould be put down. No perspective...

Well said, Connie.

Connie that is quite true. We are at risk every day. I almost stepped on a rattlesnake when hiking in Joshua Tree National Park when my son was 6 months old (also on the hike). Being 2 hours away from the car in 95F heat the experience really gave me a perspective on life and the national park experience. Every hike is a risk.

That being said I truly feel for the family of the man who was killed and it angers me that several people are commenting (in various articles I have read) in ways that exonerate the bear and almost place blame on the hikers for being in the "bear's backyard". All in all it is tradegy and I personally feel that the life of the hiker is a greater lost than life of a bear.

We should not kill the Grizzly, she was only doing what any mother, human or animal would do, protect their young. Moms, will do anything not let harm come to their young. Also remember that we are only visitors in the land that they live in. We have to abide by the rules that are inhert to the wildnerness. We have to get over the fact that we as humans can not control everything as much as we like.

Grizzlies should be hunted. period. Some of them have zero fear of humans. Although they demand respect (as does every other living creature), they are not the apex predator. And they can be taught that. I see comments here and elsewhere like "just a bear being a bear", oh really. If that was your husband or son or daughter that got shredded for a bear just being a bear you would probably feel differently. If they were hunted I truly believe that their behavior would be modified. I'm sure not 100%, but it would be an improvement.

dave,

They were hunted to near extinction in the lower 48. Are you suggesting gizzlies need a refresher course?

I read in another article that the wife stated they had seen the bear once before with her cubs but decided to keep walking anyway. Then when they stepped out of the trees, they were too close and the bear attacked to protect her cubs. I do not know how accurate that newspaper is (they reported the grizzlies are wandering into NM cities to escape the fires) but if they actually kept walking in the direction of the sow and cubs, then the attack was provoked. Please don't read this as, "they were asking for it" because that is not what I'm implying.

It's wrong to consider killing a bear that was defending her cubs. To consider otherwise is to not understand Yellowstone and it's real values. We are visitors, bears are residents. No one is blaming the hikers for being "in the bear's back yard" but they must take responsibility for their decisions and actions. While tragic, these folks saw the bears early in their hike and continued. They also ran when charged, a definite mistake with bears, resulting in these terrible consequences. And note, the woman played dead (as is advised in these circumstances) and got away with no injuries. So, this could possibly have been prevented. I too feel for this family. I have two daughters and we live and hike in Yellowstone. Even if I lost a daughter under these circumstances, I would not wish for the bear, which was acting naturally, to be destroyed. I would however, feel deep sorrow, yet take personal responsibility for my loss, and for not having taken better precautions and made better decisions when enjoying the backcountry.

Ranger Lady, initial reports from the park did mention that they kept walking after seeing the bear(s). Later accounts corrected that and said they headed away from the bear.

But this incident, and the one last year in Olympic where the man was killed by a mountain goat, raises the question of whether enough information is being given to visitors of parks where the backcountry is readily accessible and is the home territory of these animals?

After all, when you plan a backcountry trip and reserve backcountry campsites, you often have to sit through a backcountry briefing on the animals you might encounter and how to deal with them. In parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and Olympic, the "backcountry" is not miles away from your car, but often a few short yards. Is there a need for a more hands-on education of casual tourists who might want to take a day hike?

Tough question.

Tough Circumstances. How far do you go to protect one from harm resulting from their own actions. The thought comes to mind that many folks get insulted if you insinuate that they may not know enough about what they are doing. How much information can you force on them and how many restrictions can you place on them. Wonderful thing when people ask "Is there anything else I need to know to keep out of trouble." Not saying they didn't do this. I'm not sure what the answer is to this one other than, let it be. Otherwise it will be debated to death with no benefitial result. Sometimes the only hope that comes to my mind is that God must have had a reason. My thoughts are with the family.

Ron (obxguys)

My husband has hiked countless miles in the backcountry with his brothers and our son. The two of us hike many miles every summer on day hikes. Each and every time we hike, we do so with bear spray and we take precautions. We are taking a risk but we do so willingly and it is an informed risk. We could just as easily fall off a mountain or fall down the mountain, as we could have a grizzly encounter. I agree with Rick, hikers bare a personal responsibility when they are outdoors. It's not enough to stay on trails or follow regulations. Hiking responsibly also takes into account the animals whose habitats we enter. Had this Grizzly gotten sprayed with pepper spray she would have learned that people should be avoided and in all likelihood avoided them in the future. In my personal opinion, I think that's a lesson that can be taught as opposed to blasting away at bears with a gun.

Like I said earlier, life is full of risks unless you plan to stay at home and get your fill of nature on the National Geographic channel.

Obviously not to "near extinction". Besides that was a long time ago. Back then they had bounties on just about anything that had canines. Conservation and wildlife management practices today have changed dramatically for the better. And yes I do believe they need a little "refresher" on the true pecking order.

I don't think pepper spray is the answer. It may or may not save you on that one probably rare occasion your attacked. Just like carrying a gun and "blasting away" as you say, may or may not save you on that one rare occasion. Although I would rather have pepper spray than nothing at all. And to be honest I'm still not sure which I would rather carry, pepper spray or a gun if given the choice. Last year when I was in Yellowstone I carried nothing.
How many bears are actually sprayed every year in the U.S.? No one knows for sure. But I'll bet you could count them on one hand. Not much of a deterrent in my opinion. You are surely not going to educate many bears by spraying them. If you want to teach a whole population of bears to respect humans you need to hunt them. Organized, managed and on a seasonal basis. Trust me, all animals are smarter than most people give them credit for. They will learn quickly.
BTW, Hunting and "blasting away with a gun" are two totally different concepts and have absolutely nothing in common.

I guess that's the beauty of living in America, we get to agree to disagree.

One of the many, Connie.

beauties......that is.

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.

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.

dave,

"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 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?

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.

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.

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!"

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!