Yellowstone grizzly attack may result from two converging trends: More visitors to Yellowstone National Park and the rebounding grizzly bear population.
The fatal grizzly bear attack on a hiker in Yellowstone National Park this week was the first in the park in 25 years.
But attacks on humans by grizzlies in the greater Yellowstone region – as well as other threatening encounters – are not unheard of, and this may be due to two converging trends.
One, the slow recovery of the grizzly bear from its federally protected status as a threatened species. And two, the number of visitors to Yellowstone – many of whom come to hike the trails where wildlife can be seen – has been growing by record numbers in recent years.
In Pictures: Yellowstone Wildlife
This has meant more opportunities for more people to see grizzlies in the wild, while also increasing the potential for danger.
In June 2010, a grizzly just released after being tranquilized for study killed an Illinois man hiking outside Yellowstone's east gate, the Associated Press reports. Last July, another grizzly killed a Michigan man and injured two others in a nighttime campground attack near Cooke City, Mont., northeast of the park. And earlier this year, a female grizzly injured two people hiking in the Gallatin National Forest north of Big Sky, Mont.