COOKE CITY, Mont. — Wildlife officials said Friday a grizzly bear was euthanized after tests determined it was responsible for a triple mauling in a Montana campground.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said DNA tests determined the sow killed a Michigan man and injured two others in unprovoked attacks in a campground overnight Wednesday.
The bear was euthanized after wildlife officials captured the sow and her three cubs at the Soda Butte Campground five miles from Yellowstone National Park.
Aasheim said the cubs will likely be placed in a zoo. Jackie Worstell, executive director of ZooMontana in Billings, said state officials have asked if her zoo could take the cubs.
A final decision was expected Friday or Saturday.
The capture of the bears brought relief among residents and visitors in Cooke City, an old mining town just outside Yellowstone National Park that was jolted by the Wednesday attacks on three people as they slept in separate tents.
Authorities said the bear family, under the tutelage of the mother, specifically targeted campers — a sharp departure from the usual behavior of grizzlies attacking only when threatened or surprised.
Evidence indicated all three cubs likely participated in what Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard called a sustained attack on Kevin Kammer of Michigan. He was pulled from his tent and dragged 25 feet. At least one of the bears fed on his body.
Despite the unusual nature of the attacks, there also was a realization in Cooke City that bear run-ins would continue. Three million tourists a year visit the remote and wild Yellowstone region of Montana and Wyoming, which has an estimated 600 grizzlies.
"It's a great spot, but you have to realize we're in their home. We're part of the food chain," Pat Froelich, 75, said as she watched the trucks haul the grizzlies from town as she ate breakfast at the Bear Claw Bakery.
Fibers from a tent or sleeping bag were in the droppings of the captured bears, and a tooth fragment found in a tent appears to match a chipped tooth on the sow that weighs more than 300 pounds.
"Everything points to it being the offending bear," said Ron Aasheim, a spokesman for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The two other victims, Deb Freele of London, Ontario, and Ronald Singer of Alamosa, Colo., were initially hospitalized in Cody, Wyo. Singer, 21, was treated and released. Freele was scheduled to have surgery Friday for bite wounds and a broken bone in her arm, her husband Bill Freele said.
He expected her to be released from the hospital sometime this weekend.
Freele said his wife had wanted to carry on with their trip but reconsidered after having nightmares about the attack.
"Right now, she just wants to see the kids," he said.
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