Published August 29, 2011
BILLINGS, Mont. – A grizzly bear killed a Michigan man whose body was found by hikers last week in Yellowstone National Park, officials said Monday.
The victim was identified Monday as John Wallace of Chassell, Mich.
Wallace's body was discovered along a trail about five miles from the nearest trailhead. Results of an autopsy concluded that he died as a result of traumatic injuries from a bear attack.
It is the second time a visitor to the park has been killed by a bear this year.
Authorities say Wallace likely died Wednesday or Thursday.
He was traveling alone and had pitched a tent in a campground on Wednesday, park officials said. Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk has previously said that the hiker was found with a snack bar in his closed backpack, but that it appears the grizzly did not try to get at the food.
"We know of no witnesses to the event at all," Wenk said on Monday. "As far as we know he was in good health and out enjoying the park."
Two trails and a section of the Hayden Valley west of Yellowstone's Grand Loop Road have been closed to hikers. Park officials asked hikers elsewhere in the park to stay on the trails, to hike in groups of three or more and carry bear spray.
Wallace's death comes after a female bear attacked and killed a 57-year-old California man in July on the popular Wapiti Lake Trail, several miles away from where the Michigan man was discovered Friday.
The female bear was not killed because officials said the sow was only defending its cubs and had not threatened humans before.
Rangers found grizzly tracks and scat, or bear droppings, near Wallace's body.
The Mary Mountain Trail is closed from March to June because park managers list it as "high-density grizzly bear habitat."
Park employees have been searching for the bear around the Mary Mountain Trail northeast of Old Faithful. That's the area where hikers discovered Wallace's body on Friday.
Traps have been set to try to capture the bear. Wenk said it would be killed if it can be linked to Wallace's death through DNA analysis.