Woman found dead near Yellowstone National Park

Officials said a woman was found dead in Montana after “an apparent bear encounter” on a trail near Yellowstone National Park Sunday.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks said in a statement that the woman was found deceased Saturday morning on the Buttermilk Trail near West Yellowstone. Investigators confirmed that there were grizzly bear tracks at the scene.

The investigation into the grizzly bear attack is ongoing, the department said.

Citing bear and human safety concerns, the Custer Gallatin National Forest issued an emergency closure of the Buttermilk area, which is popular among hikers. The area is about 8 miles west of West Yellowstone, a Montana town near the Custer Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone National Park.

Montana nature reserves and wilderness recreation areas are home to various wildlife, including bears, wolves, elk, and bison.

According to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, bears can be found throughout the state. In recent years, there has been a rise in the state’s grizzly bear population and an increase in sightings.

Last week, the department warned visitors about confirmed grizzly bear sightings, “particularly in areas between the Northern Continental Divide and the Great Yellowstone ecosystems.”The department urged visitors to “Be Bear Aware” and to take precautions, such as carrying bear spray; storing food while outside and tending to garbage; traveling during daylight hours and in groups; watching for signs of bears; and making noise to alert bears of their presence.

The incident follows other recent bear attacks in Arizona and Colorado.

Earlier this month, a 35-year-old sheep herder was attacked and severely injured in a black bear attack in San Juan National Forest in Colorado, according to the state’s Wildlife and parks department. The man had sustained bite wounds to his head; wounds to his hand and arm; lacerations to his hip area and scratches on his back.

In June, the Arizona Game and Fish Department said that a 66-year-old man was attacked and killed by an adult male black bear near a cabin he was building south of Prescott, Arizona.

“Steven Jackson, 66, was sitting in a chair on his property when the bear attacked, apparently unprovoked,” the department said in a news release. “Neighbors reportedly tried to scare the bear away and stop the attack but were unsuccessful.”

The bear was shot and killed by another neighbor at the scene while it was “in the process of consuming the man,” the department said.

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