Montana Hiker Dies in Suspected Grizzly Bear Attack

by Megan Molseed
Getty Images

A Montana hike has ended in tragedy after a hiker was found dead late this week. The cause of death is suspected to be the result of an encounter with a grizzly bear. The Park County Sherriff’s office has released a statement noting that the 40-year-old Craig Clouatre was with a friend at the time he went missing. The missing person report came in on Wednesday when Clouatre didn’t return to meet his hiking partner after splitting up in search of sheds.

The duo was hiking on Wednesday near Six Mile Creek. This area is located about 20 to 25 miles to the north of Yellowstone National Park. During their journey, Clouatre and the other hiker split up. Clouatre was later reported missing; after failing to meet his hiking companion at a predetermined rendezvous point.

“We don’t typically put people into the mountains in the dark on an initial look,” notes Sherriff Brad Bichler.

“So we started first thing Thursday morning,” the Sherriff continues. “And went through the day Thursday.”

According to his statement to CNN, law enforcement officials moved to search for Clouatre using thermal imaging Thursday night. The teams then “started back up this morning right after first light.”

The Body Of A Minnesota Hiker Found After an Apparent Grizzly Bear Attack

The search for the missing hiker included teams of ground crews, horse teams, and helicopters. However, after the days-long search for hiker Craig Clouatre, officials found his body on Friday. The cause of death is believed to be a grizzly bear attack. And Clouatre “unfortunately did not survive,” Bichler says in a statement.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this update,” Sherriff Bichler says in the statement. “After an extensive search this morning we have located Craig.”

According to Bichler, bear attacks have occurred in the area before. However, these attacks aren’t typically fatal, Bichler says.

“Please keep his family and all those involved in your thoughts and prayers,” the Sherriff adds in the recent statement.

More Than 700 Grizzly Bears Call The Region Home – All Grizzlies Outside Of Alaska Have Protection Under Federal Law

For the last decade or so, grizzly bears have killed around eight people within the Yellowstone region. Among those killed is a backcountry guide along the western border of Yellowstone National Park. Federal laws protect all grizzly bears within the region.

About 700 grizzly bears populate the Yellowstone National Park region panning across portions of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Fatal grizzly attacks on humans are rare. However, attacks have increased in recent years as the grizzly population continues to grow; and more and more people continue to move into more rural areas near these bear habitats.