2 Jul 2010, 2:00pm
Bears Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies
by admin

Deadly Bear Journalism

Dave Smith of Examiner.com is doing an excellent job reporting about the fatal grizzly bear mauling of Erwin Evert near Yellowstone Park on June 17 [here].

Dave Smith is the author of Don’t Get Eaten, and Backcountry Bear Basics: The Definitive Guide to Avoiding Unpleasant Encounters. In past lives he spent more than a decade in Alaska, and another six years working as a winterkeeper in the snowbound heart of Yellowstone Park. He’s an avid outdoorsman and traveler, and the “bear examiner” at Examiner.com.

Smith’s reports to date on the June 17 fatal mauling include:

Investigation of fatal bear mauling could take months

by Dave Smith, Examiner.com, July 1, 2023 [here]

If history is any guide, it could be months before wildlife officials finish their investigation into the June 17 death of a man near Yellowstone Park killed by a grizzly that had just been trapped, tranquilized and released.

Seventy year-old botanist Ewrin Evert of Park Ridge, IL was killed near his cabin on Kitty Creek, about seven miles from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. There were no witnesses. On June 29, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team leader Chuck Schwartz told the Associated Press, “federal wildlife authorities outside the team will conduct the investigation.”

How long can Evert’s widow, daughter, and friends expect to wait before the investigation is completed? …

Will fatal bear mauling be investigated?

by Dave Smith, Examiner.com, June 28, 2023 [here]

Will there be an independent, objective investigation by law enforcement officials into the suspicious death of a man near Yellowstone Park who was killed by a grizzly bear that had just been trapped, tranquilized, and released? …

Seventy year-old botanist Erwin Evert of Park Ridge, IL was killed on June 17 just two miles from his summer cabin on Kitty Creek, near the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team leader Chuck Schwartz says a 50-to-100 square yard area around the bear trapping site was closed. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen claims a trail that began near Evert’s cabin and lead to the trap site was closed. Evert’s wife and cabin owners in the area dispute these claims. …

Servheen told the Chicago Tribune that on June 17, the bear trappers caught a 430-pound male grizzly in a foot snare. “They tranquilized it, collected blood and hair samples and fitted it with a [radio] collar. They waited for it to stir, then beat a quick retreat.”

Did they watch the bear to make sure it recovered from being tranquilized? “Standard Operating Procedure” for the “Capture, Handling & Release of Grizzly Bears” in Canada’s Northwest Territories is that “bears captured by snare should be observed from a safe distance until they recover and move away from the site.” (p.20)

A Park County, WY sheriff’s department press release said that after tranquilizing and radio-collaring the bear that later killed Evert, trappers “packed up their equipment and left the area.”

If their job was done, why would the trap site still be closed? Wouldn’t the trappers take down the “closed” signs and pack them out with the rest of their equipment?

Erwin Evert left his cabin for a daily hike at 1:15 p.m. He could easily have covered the two miles to the bear trapping site in an hour. That puts him at the trap site at 2:15 p.m.

According to the Chicago Tribune, authorities said trappers left the area where the bear was released “around 1 p.m.” Oddly, the bear trappers did not cross paths with Evert. Stranger yet, there’s no indication law enforcement officials have tried to determine exactly when Evert died.

The bear trappers were on horseback. It was only two miles to Evert’s cabin, but they didn’t arrive until at least 4 p.m. Why would it take three hours to cover two miles on horseback?

Near the cabin, the bear trappers were met by Erwin Evert’s wife Yolanda, who told them her husband was late returning from his walk. One of the bear trappers claims he went back up the trap site and found Evert’s body. Did he notify a supervisor via cell phone or 2-way radio? “Hey boss, I thought thought you might want to know there’s a dead body where we just tranquilized and released a grizzly bear.”

All that’s known is that the bear trapper went back down the trail to the cabins to deliver horrifying news to Yolanda Evert. It took 15 minutes, round trip.

The Park County Sheriff’s Department wasn’t notified “that a subject had possibly been mauled and killed by a grizzly bear until 6:48 p.m.”

What took so long? The bear trappers met Yolanda Evert sometime between 4 p.m and 5 p.m. If there was no cell phone service or 2-way radio service at the cabins on Kitty Creek, it was 15 minutes max to the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park. Why did it take almost 2 hours to call the Sherrif’s department?

Nothing about this story adds up. Everything points to a cover-up.

Yesterday, the Casper-Star Tribune’s editorial board said a “formal review” of closures during bear trapping operations by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team “might reveal some ways to improve the process.”

Not doubt it will. But an in-house review of bear trapping procedures by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is one issue, and a law enforcement investigation into the death of Erwin Evert is another matter entirely.

Is a law enforcement agency going to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding Erwin Evert’s death?

Widow of man killed by grizzly outraged with bear researchers: Lawsuit?

by Dave Smith, Examiner.com, June 25, 2023 [here]

The widow of a botanist killed by a grizzly that had just been trapped, tranquilized, and released is “outraged that there were no signs warning residents about the bear researchers work,” according to a June 24 article in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Will there be a lawsuit?

Seventy year-old Erwin Evert of Oak Park, IL was killed on June 17 about two miles from his summer cabin on Kitty Creek near the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. There are 8-10 cabins in the area. There are lodges and a boy scout camp within a few miles of the Kitty Creek drainage on the Shoshone National Forest. It does not appear that the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team or Shoshone National Forest officials did news releases warning the media and the public that the Kitty Creek drainage would be closed during the bear trapping operation.

It does not appear cabin owners on Kitty Creek received written notification the upper drainage would be closed during the bear trapping operation.

But in a telephone interview, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team leader Chuck Schwartz said trails and natural travel routes surrounding the bear trapping area were signed and posted as “closed.”

In numerous articles about the fatal bear attack, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen has insisted the bear trapping area was signed and closed.

Evert’s wife Yolanda said the area was not closed, Evert’s daughter told the Chicago Sun-Times her father “knew they were doing some sort of bear research-and that’s all he knew.”

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is conducting an investigation of the incident, but why would Evert’s widow and daughter trust the results of an in-house review?

Will there be a lawsuit and a courtroom showdown?

Did research process antagonize grizzly that killed botanist

by Dave Smith, Examiner.com, June 25, 2023 [here]

Hours after bear researchers captured, tranquilized, and released a grizzly near Yellowstone Park on June 17, the bear killed 70 year-old botanist Erwin Evert. Watch this National Geographic video of a bear caught in a foot snare and ask yourself it’s possible the “normal” process of capturing and drugging a grizzly antagonizes a bear.

When researchers in the video approach a grizzly caught in a foot snare, the bear roars and charges. It’s enraged. …

Feds won’t discuss fatal bear mauling near Yellowstone

by Dave Smith, Examiner.com, June 23, 2023 [here]

In response to a June 23 email request for information about the fatal bear mauling of Erwin Evert near Yellowstone Park on June 17, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team leader Chuck Schwartz said, “it is inappropriate for me to discuss the details of this incident until the investigation is complete.”

Evert was killed by a 400 pound male grizzly that had just been trapped, drugged, and released on U.S. Forest Service land about 10 miles from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The incident occurred in the Kitty Creek drainage of the Shoshone National Forest. Erwin Evert and other people had cabins in the area. There were lodges and a Boy Scout camp nearby. Mainstream articles about the incident didn’t make it clear whether or not people had been given sufficient warning the bear study team was working in the area.

The Billings Gazette reported that “Some cabin owners have said they were unaware of research work being done in the area.” …

Do grizzly researchers share responsibility for fatal bear attack

by Dave Smith, Examiner.com, June 20, 2023 [here]

How much responsibility do federal grizzly researchers deserve for the fatal grizzly bear attack on Ewrin Evert near Yellowstone Park on June 17th?

Evert, a 70 year-old botanist, was killed by a grizzly bear that had been trapped, drugged, and handled just hours before. How dangerous are these bears?

One commentator at TwinCities.com wrote, “the bear was drugged by humans and abused and turned loose and the next human it sees it kills. The researchers are at fault here.”

Another person wrote, “If the tranquilizers hadn’t worn off completely, and the guy stumbled into a groggy grizzly bear, those researchers have some explaining to do.”

The Billings Gazette reports that Evert “ignored warning signs posted advising hikers to avoid the area because of the likelihood of a dangerous bear encounter.”

Why didn’t researchers just close the area? Earlier this month, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that after a grizzly with three cubs was struck by a car in Yellowstone Park and ran off into the backcountry near a trail; “as a precaution, the trail was closed.”

Why didn’t researchers from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team take the common-sense precaution of closing the area where they were trapping and drugging grizzly bears? Evert was killed on the Shoshone National Forest. After his death, U.S. Forest Service officials closed the trail.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Coordinator Chris Servheen told the Billings Gazette, “we can’t protect ourselves against people that ignore every warning we give.”

Perhaps the problem is that there are so many bear warning signs in the Yellowstone region people ignore them, especially old-timers like Evert who had been coming to his cabin near Wapiti, WY for 30 years. Trailheads are festooned with day-glo orange signs warning of bear activity, bright yellow signs on proper food storage in bear country, and more. Anchorage, Alaska had a similar problem. Alaska Department of Fish & Game bear specialist Jessy Coltrane said, “People weren’t paying serious attention to bear signs because they didn’t mean anything anymore.”

To solve the problem, various land management agencies in the Anchorage area put their heads together and came up with a better bear signage system.

While federal officials in the Yellowstone region have promised an in-house review of bear trapping protocol, it appears officials are now playing the blame game in Evert’s death. “We can’t protect people against themselves,” says Servheen.

4 Jul 2010, 7:33am
by Paula in MT


It’s sad that the Gov. is passing the buck on this man’s death. As it was stated, people are so barraged with warnings that they don’t mean anything. So too it sounds like the Bear Trap Team and its program have taken for granted that people know what’s going on. The Team did not do their part to ensure public safety as well as they could have, (especially when they already knew through experience that people are not “seeing” the signs of impending danger). These “research” people need to go over and beyond just signs and orange flagging in a trap area. They need to go door to door to make sure everyone is notified. Had this been done, I don’t think we would have a dead man! It’s a cruel attempt at justification of their program when they say they can’t protect people against themselves and if people would just leave the wild animals alone this wouldn’t have happened the way it did. I hope the family sues the pants off them.

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