Grizzly killed Yellowstone hiker found dead in park

Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:46pm EDT
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By Ruffin Prevost

CODY, Wyo (Reuters) - A hiker found dead on a backcountry trail in Yellowstone National Park last week was killed by a grizzly bear in the park's second fatal bear mauling this summer, park officials said on Monday.

The two fatal attacks occurred within several miles of one another, and park officials were examining whether the same bear was involved in both incidents, a Yellowstone spokesman said.

The body of John Wallace, 59, who was hiking alone and visiting from Chassell, Michigan, was discovered on Friday morning by two other hikers along the Mary Mountain Trail amid signs of grizzly activity at the scene, including bear tracks.

But it had not been clear until an autopsy was performed whether Wallace was the victim of a bear attack or if his body had been scavenged after he had died by other means.

"Results from an autopsy conducted Sunday afternoon concluded that Wallace died as a result of traumatic injuries from a bear attack," a U.S. Park Service statement said.

The exact circumstances of the attack remained a mystery as there were no witnesses, but park Superintendent Dan Wenk told Reuters that once the grizzly involved was positively identified "that bear will be removed from the population."

"The bear caused significant injuries to the hiker," Wenk said. "That's enough to know without a description of exact circumstances."

Wallace had pitched a tent in a park campground sometime on Wednesday and was believed to have been killed later that day or on Thursday, park officials said.   Continued...

<p>A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park, in an April 2003 photo. REUTERS/Jim Peaco/National Park Service</p>