Woman found dead after grizzly bear encounter near Yellowstone National Park

Last week, Montana wildlife authorities warned of confirmed grizzly sightings throughout the state and urged campers and visitors to exercise caution.

An entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.Jacob W. Frank / National Park Service

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — A woman was found dead in Montana on Saturday after coming into contact with a grizzly bear on a trail west of Yellowstone National Park.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a statement on Sunday that the woman was found deceased on a trail near West Yellowstone, a Montana town nestled in the Custer Gallatin National Forest just west of Yellowstone National Park.

They said the woman was found deceased “following an apparent bear encounter” based on what investigators determined were grizzly bear tracks at the scene. The department said the investigation into the grizzly attack was ongoing.

Rangers issued an emergency closure of the area where the woman was found, which is popular with hikers.

Though the department’s statement said the death appeared to have followed the woman’s interaction with the bear, it did not confirm her cause of death.

The attack comes amid a rise in Montana’s grizzly bear population and an increase in sightings.

The department put out a news release last week warning visitors that staff had confirmed grizzly bear sightings throughout the state, “particularly in areas between the Northern Continental Divide and the Great Yellowstone ecosystems.”

They implored those camping and visiting parks to carry bear spray, store their food while outside and tend to their garbage.

At Glacier National Park, about 670 miles north of Yellowstone, a "food-conditioned" grizzly bear was euthanized on Thursday after the creature began to exhibit "increasingly aggressive behavior, the National Park Service said.

The park service warned that once a bear receives a "human food reward," it can become food-conditioned, which can lead to aggressive behavior in pursuit of a meal.

"This behavior posed a threat to human safety making it necessary to remove it from the population," the National Park Service said.

Recently, two people visiting national parks were also seriously injured in separate bison attacks, according to park officials.

A bison “severely injured” a woman visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota on July 15, while just a few days before, a bison gored a woman visiting Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.