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Investigation completed in fatal W. Yellowstone grizzly bear attack

West Yellowstone Fatal Grizzly Bear Attack
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Posted at 9:10 AM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 15:21:56-05

MISSOULA — An investigation has been completed into one of two fatal grizzly attacks in Montana this past season, but a review board is still looking into the attack that killed a biker camping in Ovando.

Leah Davis Lokan was killed while sleeping in her tent at an Ovando campground on July 6. The bear would be euthanized after several days of searching. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) was told a review board is still analyzing the details of that attack.

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But investigators determined the unusual spring attack that killed 40-year-old Charles Mock at a campground outside West Yellowstone happened when he ran across a grizzly feeding on a moose carcass.

Hillary Cooley of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) told her colleagues the mid-April attack happened between the highway and the Madison River. Mock died shortly after the mauling, and investigators believe the bear's aggressiveness was caused by the proximity of the kill.

West Yellowstone Fatal Grizzly Bear Attack
In this April 15, 2021, file photo, provided by the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, officers from the sheriff's office and West Yellowstone Police Department are seen near the scene of a grizzly bear mauling just outside Yellowstone National Park near West Yellowstone.

"Why was the bear so agitated? It was there for three days, very agitated. We don't know. But we hypothesize that maybe the bear had defended, of claimed the moose carcass from another bear,” Cooley said. “And that might have contributed to the extended aggressive defense of the moose carcass."

Cooley says the incident again shows the need for safety precautions, even close to town. While bear spray helped curtail this attack, carcasses can present a real hazard in grizzly country. Click here to learn more about how to "Be Bear Aware."