July 7, 2011
A 57-year-old Torrance, California, man has been identified as the victim
of a Wednesday morning bear attack in Yellowstone National Park.
Brian Matayoshi, and his wife Marylyn, were hiking Wednesday morning on the
Wapiti Lake Trail, which is located off the South Rim Drive, south of
Canyon Village and east of the parks Grand Loop Road.
The couple was hiking west back toward their vehicle. At approximately
11:00 a.m., at a point about a mile and a half from the trailhead, they
walked out of a forested area into an open meadow. It appears that the
couple spotted a bear approximately 100 yards away and then began walking
away from the bear. When they turned around to look, they reportedly saw
the female grizzly running down the trail at them. The couple began
running, but the bear caught up with them, attacking Mr. Matayoshi. The
bear then went over to Mrs. Matayoshi, who had fallen to the ground nearby.
The bear bit her daypack, lifting her from the ground and then dropping
her. She remained still and the bear left the area.
Mrs. Matayoshi then walked back toward the meadow and attempted, without
success, to call 911 on her cell phone. She began to shout for help and was
heard by a distant group of hikers who were able to contact 911 by cell
phone. Two rangers already in the area on backcountry patrol were contacted
by the park Communications Center by radio and responded to the scene of
Mr. Matayoshi received multiple bite and clawing injuries, and was dead
when rangers arrived at the scene at approximately 11:30 a.m.
Rangers immediately closed the hiking trails in the area. A subsequent
helicopter patrol of the area failed to turn up any other hikers or
backpackers. This small section of the parks backcountry is expected to
remain closed for several days.
The initial investigation suggests the sow grizzly acted in a purely
defensive nature to protect her cubs. This female bear is not tagged or
collared, and does not apparently have a history of aggression or human
interaction. Typically, the National Park Service does not trap, relocate,
or kill a bear under those circumstances. A Board of Review which will
include interagency experts will be convened to review the incident.
Bear attacks are extremely rare. No one was hurt by a bear in Yellowstone
in 2010. This is the first time a human has been killed by a bear in the
park since 1986.
Park visitors are encouraged to stay on designated trails, hike in groups
of three or more people, and be alert for bears and make noise in blind
spots. Visitors are also encouraged to consider carrying bear pepper spray,
which has been shown to be highly successful in stopping aggressive
behavior in bears. The Matayoshis were not carrying pepper spray.