Posted at 08:35 AM ET, 07/07/2011

Yellowstone National Park visitor killed by grizzly bear


A grizzly mauled a man to death in Yellowstone National Park Wednesday. (James Peaco - AP)

This post has been updated
A man was killed by a mother grizzly at Yellowstone in Wyoming, Wednesday, after he and his wife apparently surprised the bear and her cubs. The fatal mauling comes just days after an Exxon Mobil pipeline ruptured, spilling as many as 42,000 gallons of oil into Montana’s Yellowstone River before the flow stopped.

Park officials said they will not search for the bear that killed the 57-year-old man, whose name has not been released. The bear will not be killed, as it acted in a natural way, protecting her cubs.

The trail near the attack was closed, officials said, and a sign has been posted warning hikers. But officials do not want to dissuade people from coming to the park.

“This is a wild and natural park,” Diane Shober, director of the state Wyoming Travel and Tourism agency, told the Associated Press. “At the same time, the likelihood of this happening again is small.”

Indeed, fatal bear attacks are rare. This is the first time since 1986 that a person has been killed by a bear in the Yellowstone park, according to a press release. This year’s only other reported victim is Bernice Evelyn Adolph, who was killed by a bear in British Columbia this June. In 2010, a grizzly killed one tourist and injured another near the border of Yellowstone in Montana.

Meanwhile, clean up efforts are underway in Montana, where an Exxon Mobil pipeline burst Friday causing the Yellowstone River to swell. “Exxon Mobil? They’re going to pay for it. I promise you this right now,” Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said. “Yellowstone is cleaned up when the state of Montana says it’s cleaned up, not some bureaucrat from Washington or the state of Texas.”

The spill has raised the same questions about safety that popped up after the BP spill last year, The Post’s Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin report. This most recent spill has raised doubts over whether the 2,000-mile TransCanada Keystone pipeline should be built, they wrote.

The site of the spill is upstream of Yellowstone National Park, about 100 miles away, and officials say the park will not be effected, MSNBC reports.

It’s unclear if these two events will have any effect on tourism. More than 3.6 million people visited Yellowstone in 2010, a 10.5 percent increase from the previous year according to the park. But so far, attendance has been down in every month of 2011, according to National Park Service statistics.

By  |  08:35 AM ET, 07/07/2011

 
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