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Grizzly management group to discuss fatal bear attacks

YNP photo(MISSOULA)- This summer’s fatal bear maulings in Yellowstone will be one of the key topics for discussion when the federal committee that oversees grizzly management meets in Missoula.

The maulings this summer were the first time a bear has killed someone inside the park in a quarter century.

A 58-year old California man was killed in early July when he and his wife tried to run away from a sow grizzly on a trail in Canyon Village. A 59-year old Michigan man was killed in late August along the Mary Mountain Trail. The attacks, as well as numerous encounters between hunters and bears in Northwest Montana this fall, have renewed debate over the best way to educate people on how to react to grizzly encounters.

Next week grizzly bear recovery specialist Chris Servheen will be giving a summary on the two fatal attacks when the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee holds its winter meeting in Missoula. While the presentation is expected to focus on this summer’s fatal maulings, we’re not expecting to hear any discussion about the 2010 fatal mauling that happened outside the park. That case is under litigation by the woman who’s husband was killed when he stumbled on a bear that had been tranquilized by bear researchers. She’s filed a $5-million lawsuit against the federal government.

The IGBC will also be reviewing the latest grizzly bear recovery efforts, as well as the newest research on managing bears as “distinct population segments.” That DPS approach has been controversial with other species, such as wolves, because it focuses on managing wildlife on a smaller geographic basis, rather than over an entire region. 

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