Two weeks later, we have an answer to this puzzling and unfortunate Yellowstone mystery. Per Park County District Court officials, Patrick M. Gogerty turned himself in to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) with a phone message.
Gogerty did so on the morning of May 2, 2023, a full day after photos of the large grizzly bear’s carcass spread from Yellowstone National Park wildlife photographers to international news.
Officials say the citizen of Wapiti, WY has now been “charged with a misdemeanor count of killing or taking a trophy game animal without license or authority,” Billing’s Q2 News reports. He will be arraigned in Cody Circuit Court on Friday, May 19.
“Gogerty should have turned himself in immediately,” writes WGFD Game Warden Travis Crane in the affidavit filed in Park County Circuit Court.
Gogerty would leave his phone message on May 2, in which he admits to shooting the Yellowstone grizzly. Per his words, he believed he was shooting a black bear because he did not see a hump on its back. Then, he approached the dead bear, examined its claws, pads, and head, and realized he had shot a grizzly/brown bear.
Gogerty faces up to $25,000 in restitution to the state of Wyoming for killing the protected species. He also faces a six-year hunting suspension. Cody court documents confirm the Yellowstone bear was shot at seven times and hit with four bullets.
Wyoming’s spring black bear hunt begins on May 1 the day Gogerty shot this bear. Failing to report his incident immediately, however, will now factor into his case.
WGFD confirms the grizzly was a large boar weighing around 530 pounds in life.
Yellowstone’s dead grizzly ‘a true shame’
Yellowstone wildlife photographer Julie Argyle tells Q2 that the bear’s death is “a true shame.”
“It hurts me deep inside to know that this bear was just out there being a bear. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. No attacks or getting livestock,” she adds. “He was just living life as a bear, and someone decided it was going to be fun to kill him.”
The case began with photos by local photographers like Argyle. After spotting the carcass along the North Fork Highway near Cody, WY, multiple individuals would post photos to the Wild Love Images Facebook group.
“Earlier today, this grizzly bear was found dead just 14 miles outside Yellowstone National Park along the North Fork towards Cody Wyoming. It was roughly 20 – 40 yards off of the road,” the group began in their post on the morning of Monday, May 1 alongside further photos from resident Amy Wells.
Grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and have since 2018. Deliberate killing of a grizzly, which entails illegal killing or without just cause, is a felony. The maximum penalty in Wyoming is a $50,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
Initial report: Grizzly bear shot right outside Yellowstone National Park.