CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Two researchers who tranquilized and studied a grizzly bear hours before the animal killed a hiker near Yellowstone National Park removed warning signs as they left the site, an investigation has found.

A report released Monday also says the victim knew the researchers were studying bears less than a mile from his summer cabin, and expressed hope that he would meet them while hiking so he could ask them about their work.

Erwin Frank Evert, 70, a botanist from Park Ridge, Ill., went hiking the afternoon of June 17 from the summer cabin he owned about 6 miles from Yellowstone’s east gate. The 430-pound bear killed him where the bear, caught in a previously set snare, was studied that morning.

Authorities shot and killed the bear from a helicopter two days later.

The researchers are members of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Yellowstone grizzlies are listed as a threatened species and the team is responsible for monitoring their numbers and health.

The report recommends that the team adopt detailed standards for posting warning signs.

The report drew from interviews with and statements by the two study team researchers, Seth Thompson and Chad Dickinson, and interviews with and statements by others.

Thompson wrote that they took down the warning signs while they left the groggy bear. It was their last day of studying grizzlies in the area and they hadn’t seen any hikers in the drainage during their three weeks of work, he wrote.

The weather was brisk and snowy, he wrote.

“We also felt that the unfavorable weather conditions would curtail human activity that day,” Thompson wrote.

The researchers left the bear at 12:30 p.m. and Evert began hiking at 12:45 p.m., according to the report.

He was not carrying bear spray or a firearm, according to the report.

Around 6:15 p.m., Evert’s wife, Yolanda Evert, met Dickinson and Thompson after they’d returned to the trailhead and told them Evert was late getting back. Dickinson wrote that he rode a horse back to the trap site and found Evert face-down with significant head injuries.

Dickinson returned quickly to the trailhead.

“I was concerned for my own safety and was very convinced that Mr. Evert was indeed dead,” Dickinson wrote.

The report relayed accounts suggesting Evert put himself at risk despite being aware of the danger.

Evert had seen the warning signs while hiking yet expressed hope in the days before his death that he could “catch up with” the researchers and talk to them, said the report, drawing from a statement by a forest ranger who’d talked to Evert’s wife and daughter.

“They said he had a natural curiosity which was part of his personality as a scientist,” wrote Terry Root, a district ranger for Shoshone National Forest, where Evert was killed.

Evert apparently strayed half a mile uphill from his usual hiking route to reach the site where he was attacked, according to a map in the report showing Evert’s usual hiking “circuit” and the location of the research site.

Evert’s daughter, Mara Domingue, of Ventress, La., did not return a phone message seeking comment. Study team leader Chuck Schwartz, with the U.S. Geological Survey in Bozeman also did not return a phone message seeking comment.

(8) comments

helenros
helenros

They took down signs? So not only were they taking a personal risk. they also were placing others at risk! These are WILD ANIMALS, not cartoons. They will do more than take your picnic basket.

dietz1963

I don't know about you helenros, but I don't need a sign telling me there are wild animals in the woods that are potentially dangerous. But this is the society we live in now-a-days, warnings on hotdog packages about cutting them up a certain way for children 6 and under, toys that have warnings on them not to give to kids under a certain age....yea, we live in the society of STUPID

Doglover
Doglover

Sorry for the death of this gentleman but the article states that he knew what the risks were. He was also in Grizzly territory. He should have had some kind of defense like bear spray or a little gun to make noise.

steeline

Well here is a classic example of a very dumb thing to do. Those signs should have been left up, if for no other reason than to CYA. Now, the government will get to go to court and will lose for sure. The poor old man should have known better but it proves one thing you can't take wildlife lightly. Even the very smallest of creatures can cause injury or death.

bridge1

Wandering through the woods and encountering a bear under normal circumstances is one thing.

Here, you have a bear that would have been hyper agressive after waking from the drug. Haven't you seen the old video of the bear that woke up too soon and started running at and ramming the researchers vehicle?

Yes,leaving signs up for a day doesn't seem like a lot to expect.

helenros
helenros

Regardless of whether people should know the risks, the signs alert even responsible hikers of recent local bear activity. People will take extra precautions when they are informed. Taking down the signs was irresponsible.

Child_Of_4

It is a sad thing that this man had to die the way he did. I will not argue that. But in all fairness he went looking for the researchers, knowing they would be where the bears would be. He walked straight to his death, more than willingly. Sign or no sign, he knew what he was doing. What is truely disheartening to me is that this bear died for that man's thoughtlessness. That bear did not have to die... so yet again, nature is punished for man's stupidity and carless disregard.

SpaceGhost

Child of 4, you nailed this issue on the head

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