The mother grizzly that attacked and killed a camper and injured two others outside of Yellowstone National Park was captured on Thursday and will be euthanized. However the 400-pound sow’s three cubs have been sentenced to a gentler fate. Wildlife officials said on Friday morning that the cubs would be sent to zoos and were destined for a life in captivity. All of the three cubs have already been trapped.
Officials are awaiting DNA results to make sure they have the right bear, but at this point, the evidence seems to be insurmountable. To trap the bear, wildlife officials used pieces of the deceased camper’s tent and sleeping bag as bait. They set the bait in a large trap at the campsite, and it didn’t take long for the bear to return. Then, they left the mother bear in the trap knowing that her cubs wouldn’t go far.
Wildlife officials say the cubs were at the campsite during the attack and probably learned predatory habits from their mother. In other words, if the bear cubs were allowed to grow up in the wild, there’s a good chance they’d eventually hunt humans.
“We would never release these bears into the wild again, but they can be released in a zoo,” Chris Servheen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told Good Morning America.
There are about 600 grizzlies that live in the Yellowstone area, and while bear encounters are not uncommon, fatal grizzly bear attacks are a rarity. This latest attack occurred at about 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning and it was totally unprovoked. The question leaves outdoorsmen with some questions. What causes some bears attack people unprovoked? Some hunters say bears would be less aggressive toward people if we could hunt them (in small numbers), would that make a difference? And then the big one, shouldn’t the cubs be euthanized, when it’s fairly certain that they were there during the attack and could have even participated?