Word spread quickly through Yellowstone National Park about a fatal grizzly bear mauling—the park's first in 25 years—but few visitors at the height of tourist season seemed inclined to change their vacations because of the news. Thousands of people streamed into the park yesterday, a day after 57-year-old Californian Brian Matayoshi was attacked and killed by a female bear on a backcountry trail. Officials said the sow was only defending its two six-month-old cubs, had not threatened humans before, and would be left to wander the wilderness.
Whenever there is a run-in or attack involving bears, park officials must decide whether the attack was defensive or an act of aggression. In Wednesday's mauling, they based their conclusion on the account of the hiker's wife, who survived, as well as their knowledge of bear behavior. The mother bear had never been documented before, never been tagged, and there was no reason to believe it had interacted with humans before, a park spokesman said. Park officials called the mauling a "1-in-3-million" encounter that shouldn't condition the sow to attack again. They collected DNA samples from fur at the attack site, so they can determine if the bear is involved in another attack.