Yellowstone hiker killed by grizzly bear

Update at 1:47 p.m. MT, July 7, 2011:

The National Park Service released the name of the victim and more details about yesterday’s grizzly bear attack in Yellowstone National Park:


“Identity Of Bear Mauling Victim Released

A 57-year-old Torrence, California, man has been identified as the victim of a Wednesday morning bear attack in Yellowstone National Park.

Brian Matayoshi, and his wife Marylyn, were hiking Wednesday morning on the Wapiti Lake Trail, which is located off the South Rim Drive, south of Canyon Village and east of the park’s Grand Loop Road.

The couple was hiking west back toward their vehicle. At approximately 11:00 a.m., at a point about a mile and a half from the trailhead, they walked out of a forested area into an open meadow. It appears that the couple spotted a bear approximately 100 yards away and then began walking away from the bear. When they turned around to look, they reportedly saw the female grizzly running down the trail at them. The couple began running, but the bear caught up with them, attacking Mr. Matayoshi. The bear then went over to Mrs. Matayoshi, who had fallen to the ground nearby. The bear bit her daypack, lifting her from the ground and then dropping her. She remained still and the bear left the area.

Mrs. Matayoshi then walked back toward the meadow and attempted, without success, to call 911 on her cell phone. She began to shout for help and was heard by a distant group of hikers who were able to contact 911 by cell phone. Two rangers already in the area on backcountry patrol were contacted by the park Communications Center by radio and responded to the scene of the incident.

Mr. Matayoshi received multiple bite and clawing injuries, and was dead when rangers arrived at the scene at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Rangers immediately closed the hiking trails in the area. A subsequent helicopter patrol of the area failed to turn up any other hikers or backpackers. This small section of the park’s backcountry is expected to remain closed for several days.

The initial investigation suggests the sow grizzly acted in a purely defensive nature to protect her cubs. This female bear is not tagged or collared, and does not apparently have a history of aggression or human interaction. Typically, the National Park Service does not trap, relocate, or kill a bear under those circumstances. A Board of Review which will include interagency experts will be convened to review the incident.”


Yellowstone National Park released this information today, June 6, 2011:


“Yellowstone Visitor Killed By Grizzly Bear

A visitor to Yellowstone National Park is dead after an encounter with a grizzly bear Wednesday morning.

The incident occurred on the Wapiti Lake trail, which is located east of the Grand Loop Road south of Canyon Village.

The husband and wife couple had traveled about a mile and a half in on the trail Wednesday morning when they surprised a grizzly sow with cubs. In an apparent attempt to defend a perceived threat to her cubs, the bear attacked and fatally wounded the man. Another group of hikers nearby heard the victim’s wife crying out for help, and used a cell phone to call 911. Park rangers were summoned and quickly responded to the scene.

“It is extremely unfortunate that this couple’s trip into the Yellowstone backcountry has ended in tragedy,” said Dan Wenk, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. “Our heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim as they work to cope with their loss.”

The name and hometown of the victim are being withheld pending notification of family members.”


Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Yellowstone hiker killed by grizzly bear”

  1. Mark M,

    I hope Yellowstone keeps the back country closed long enough so we won’t have to find out if you used your handgun.

  2. Might be a good idea to also have someone armed with a dart shooting tazer. Also, a curious bear might use your pepper spray to spice you up before it eats you. Two guns are better than one.

    1. Hello Grassfarmer,

      I have had many “close encounters” with bears in my 51 years. All of the bears were “curious” and nothing more. Even the four grizzlies that I have encountered at close range.

      And now that the Park Service is releasing more information about this incident, it is now my assumption that bear spray would not have been a good defensive choice for this bear. This bear has lost all fear of human beings. This bear ran 100 yards to attack the Matayoshi’s. This is not a bear protecting her cubs.

      I don’t think bear spray would work in this circumstance. In a recent story, a man in Wyoming used pepper spray and stopped a sow who charged him three times. The bear stopped 5 feet from the hiker. To close for me.

      The Park Service is suffering from “group-think” that can only be taught at a University.


  3. Hello all,

    I am sorry that a family has suffered a tragedy. My prayers go to the wife, who will live with this experience forever.

    My wife, my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I will be hiking Yellowstone, GRTE, Bridger-Teton, and Caribou-Targhee in two weeks. My brother-in-law and I are hunters (not on this trip); we are experienced backcountry hikers.

    Experience notwithstanding, we will all be armed with bear spray, and at least one of us will have a hand-cannon (thanks to Senator Tom Coburn–carrying a sidearm is legal in NPs).

    We will:

    a) use our binoculars to avoid bears as best as possible, and leave an area that bears are populating;
    b) use bear spray if we have a close encounter with a “curious” bear; and,
    c) use a large caliber revolver if all else fails.

    None of us wants the trouble of dealing with Fish and Wildlife and the federal judicial system for harming an endangered species; however, if we must make a choice between the bear living, or one of us living…well…the bear will die.



Comments are closed.