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Grizzly bear kills experienced hiker at Yellowstone National Park

The park released a statement saying the victim was a Montana man who had lived in Yellowstone and worked at a medical company in the park for at least five seasons.

By Fred Lambert
Grizzly bear kills experienced hiker at Yellowstone National Park
A grizzly bear killed and partially consumed an experienced hiker at Yellowstone National Park, officials said in a statement on August 8, 2015. Photo by Terry Tollefsbol/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/CC/Wkimedia Commons

JACKSON, Wyo., Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Officials say a grizzly bear attack claimed the life of an experienced hiker found dead in Yellowstone National Park.

The partially consumed and covered body was discovered Friday a half-mile off the Elephant Back Loop Trail, near Lake Village, according to a statement by the park.

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The victim, whose name has been withheld pending notification of family members, was a Montana man who had lived at Yellowstone for five seasons working at Medcor, a company that provides urgent care at three clinics in the park.

The exact cause of death will be determined in an autopsy on Monday, but investigators say they found defensive wounds on the victim's forearm.

The Elephant Back Loop Trail and its surrounding area have been closed until further notice.

Park workers took evidence from the scene in order to recover the DNA of the bear responsible, but heavy rains are reported to have hampered the effort.

Park officials say an adult female grizzly and at least one cub were likely involved in the incident.

Wildlife biologists set traps in the area on Friday night, and park officials say they will euthanize bears caught and identified as being involved in the attack.

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"We may not be able to conclusively determine the circumstances of this bear attack, but we will not risk public safety," Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk was quoted in the statement as saying. "We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim as they work to cope with the loss of someone who loved Yellowstone so very much."

Park officials advise visitors of Yellowstone to travel in groups of three or more, to carry bear spray and to make noise in order to avoid surprise bear encounters. The National Park Service estimates 150 grizzly bears are living inside the park, while up to 839 live in the the ecosystem of Greater Yellowstone.

Four fatal bear attacks have occurred in U.S. national parks between 2010 and 2014, CNN reports. Two of those incidents took place in Yellowstone during 2011, according to the NPS.

Friday's discovery comes less than a week after a woman was mauled by a grizzly bear while jogging on a trail in Alaska.

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