Wildlife activists’ outrage over the killing of a mother grizzly bear blamed in the death of a Yellowstone National Park hiker mounted on Friday as park officials said they were taking precautions after receiving profanity-laced and threatening telephone calls.
The park on Thursday said the 259-pound (117-kg) female grizzly was euthanized after DNA testing linked her to the fatal mauling one week ago of a hiker whose body was discovered partially eaten.
The grizzly’s two orphaned cubs, which were trapped by bear managers last week, are being cared for in a captive facility until their transfer to the Toledo Zoo in the fall, Yellowstone spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said.
The park’s announcement last week that the grizzly involved in the death the hiker, 63-year-old Lance Crosby of Billings, Montana, would be killed to ensure public safety drew protests by some wildlife advocates. They argued on the park’s Facebook pages and in telephone calls and emails to Yellowstone officials that the mother grizzly should be spared.
The tone turned ugly late on Thursday after the park said the grizzly sow had been killed, Bartlett said. One caller issued personal threats to officials and another left a voicemail message so full of profanity that it was nearly unintelligible, said Bartlett.
With emotions running high, Yellowstone law enforcement officials issued a reminder to workers at the park’s government offices that self-locking doors should be securely closed upon entry and departure, said Bartlett.
She said social media has made the task of providing accurate facts to the public more challenging, with several postings tied to the incident incorrectly suggesting Crosby was jogging when attacked and that the mother grizzly engaged in a defensive attack.
Bartlett said the grizzly sow attacked and ate Crosby and then covered the remains with vegetation in a practice by bears of hiding food they intend to retrieve later.
“This did not appear to be a defensive attack where the bear neutralizes the threat and leaves. Instead, she stayed and consumed, then cached his body. That was a huge factor in deciding (her fate),” Bartlett said.
Deadly human-bear encounters are rare at the park, which recorded two separate fatal maulings in 2011, the first since 1986.
Crosby was in his fifth season working as a registered nurse for a company that operates urgent-care clinics in Yellowstone.