Report of investigative team on Erwin Evert death in Kitty Creek (grizzly attack)

This is a long pdf file, but interesting-

Most will will glance at this, but some will read it all.

There are a lot of facts I didn’t know, such as Erwin was not killed on or adjacent to the Kitty Creek trail.






  1. timz Avatar

    IMHO there was no reason to kill this bear. One could surmise this poor guy stumbled upon and startled it, while it was still in a fog from being drugged and manhandled for a couple hours by humans. It was not like it was maurading around looking for people to kill.

    1. jon Avatar

      You’re right timz. imo, it takes a unique person to not want an animal dead after it has killed someone you loved. You don’t see many people like this. People usually are filled with hate and rage and revenge when something or someone kills their loved one and that is understandable, but animals are different than humans, but I don’t think anyone can really fault for animal for doing what comes natural to it and that is kill. Humans are not exempt from the wild. Animals are not like humans. They usually have a good good reason for doing what they do whether we humans want to accept that or not. There was a case a while back in Australia where a 5 year old was killed by a saltwater crocodile and the parents of the 5 year old killed told the people who were going to go out and kill the crocodile, please, don’t kill him, he didn’t do anything wrong. It’s obviously real sad that a 5 year old had to die that way, but animals cannot be faulted for their actions. They kill to survive.

    2. timz Avatar

      Not to mention they killed it before they actually knew it was the guilty bear. Strictly a panic move.

    3. jon Avatar

      They do that all the time Tim. Everytime there is an animal attack on a person, they go out and kill every single animal in the area just to be on the safe side. I know they do this in Africa with man eating lions. I believe this is uncalled for. Finding the offending animal may be a hard job, but why should others die because of the actions of one? We humans are filled with hate and revenge on our minds every second it seems. Everytime an animal attacks, the first thing on our mind is revenge and to go out and kill the animal. We kill enough animals as it is.

  2. Virginia Avatar

    My guess is that Erwin Evert himself would not have wanted that bear destroyed. He had summered up in Kitty Creek among the bears for many years. I think the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study will be in hot water over this tragic incident. They took down the signs because they thought the unfavorable weather conditions would prevent people from being in that area! What on earth would it have hurt those two “researchers” to leave the signs up for a time after their harassment of this bear? Poor judgment in my opinion.

  3. Connie Avatar

    What I found interesting was that the bear was dosed three times with the anesthesia. In the report it was noted that a prolonged recovery period lasting many hours results in the event of multiple doses. But still when the bear was just beginning to show signs of recovering, the signs were pulled and the trappers left the area. Sounds like a waking time bomb to me.

  4. pointswest Avatar

    While I think it was all a terrible tragedy, I think killing the bear was the right thing to do for the sake of Evert’s friends and family.

    I also believe that many would find it disturbing that a man killing bear was roaming the Yellowstone area. I believe it is offensive to most people sense of justice and it would be unsettling to visitors to the Park for years to come.

    1. jon Avatar

      No more disturbing than a bear being gunned down for sport. It is not offensive to most people sense of justice. The bear did not commit a criminal act. You are talking about the bear as if it was a human that committed a murder or criminal offense. Do you have any idea how many bears are killed for sport? Humans are not exempt from being attacked by wildlife and if you come across a pissed off bear or one that feels you are threatening him/her, you are going to get it. I would bet my bottom dollar that the hiker’s wife and the hiker himself if he had lived would want the bear’s life to be spared. Humans and animals are not the same and they don’t abide by the same rules of life. You need to understand that.

    2. Virginia Avatar

      Kitty Creek is quite a distance from Yellowstone (it is in the Shoshone National forest) and I would venture to say that every bear can be a “man killing” bear if provoked and harassed. There is no “sense of justice” in this situation – only a rush to judgment on the part of the knotheads who pulled the signs prematurely.

    3. pointswest Avatar

      ++It is not offensive to most people sense of justice. ++

      I just conducted a very small and very unscientific poll around the house here with four adults and all four thought the bear should have been killed. Maybe you can poll four unbiassed people (not afilated with PETA/ALF) and report your findings back to us.

      While the general feeling, in my poll, was that the bear did not know better, if it killed a family member, they would not like to see it go free. There was also a feeling that if the bear had killed one human, it was much more likely to kill another.

      Very few people are going to accept a man killing bear running free. Maybe the people you know feel differently but I doubt the general public does.

    4. jon Avatar

      While the general feeling, in my poll, was that the bear did not know better, if it killed a family member, they would not like to see it go free. There was also a feeling that if the bear had killed one human, it was much more likely to kill another.

      There have been cases where bears have killed people and the bears were spared. Bears will sometimes kill people because they may feel threatened or because they have cubs nearby. This is part of the natural behavior of bears. You really need to understand this, but instead, you act like bears are maneaters who are purposely going out to kill people. Most bear attacks are for self defense purposes. Bears should not be killed because they kill someone’s family member. You have to look at the reason why the bear killed a person and a good portion of the time, it’s because the bear felt threatened for whatever reason and that is natural behavior on the bear’s behalf to attack when it feels threatened. You don’t know what the general public thinks. What, should a grizzly be killed for protecting its cubs when it kills a person? If a grizzly killed someone I loved, I would be devastated, but I would not want the bear to be given a death sentence because it acted like a wild unpredictable animal should, attacking because it may have felt threatened. It’s bad enough we kill animals for sport, but now we have to start killing animals when they display their natural wild unpredictable behavior? Those darn evil bears committing evil acts huh pw?

    5. jon Avatar

      Bear education 101 for you pw.

      Bears seem to experience moods much like we do; they can be shy, curious, pushy, or aggressive, and can possess other attributes that we can identify as humanlike. Each time you get close to a bear, you encounter a specific individual that may behave differently from any other individual you have ever met before or will ever meet again.
      Grizzly attack victims are often not aware of why they were attacked. Many attacks are caused by close encounters, where the bear has been surprised and feels threatened by human presence. A female with cubs will be especially aggressive and will defend her cubs from any possible threat. Many attacks can be avoided if the bear sees a way out of the situation.
      Bears are basically solitary animals. Each has its zone of danger, or personal space, which varies from animal to animal. If something or someone penetrates this zone, a response in the form of a bluff charge, bodily contact, or outright attack may result. Often times grizzly bears will essentially ignore people until a person enters into a bear’s “personal space”. Even groups as large as 100 people have been ignored by grizzly bears until one of the group gets too close. Most bears are timid enough to flee a possible encounter if they sense the presence of something or someone soon enough to leave the area undetected. On the other hand, when a bear is surprised, the bear may see you as a threat, forcing an immediate response.

      Many attacks are caused by close encounters, where the bear has been surprised and feels threatened by human presence.

    6. jon Avatar

      jeff E, I never claimed I wrote that. I thought most would figure out it was an article from a website. Are you still holding a grudge against me because of what happened some days ago? Let it go man. It’s just a blog. No need to get upset because of people’s different opinions. People will argue from time to time, just let it go.

    7. jon Avatar

      Maybe you would have preferred if I posted a link Jeff?

    8. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      Jon, you should look up the word plagiarism. It involves a good many of your posts.
      For the random or new person here it gives an impression that you actually know what you are talking about, aside from being ethically repugnant.

    9. jon Avatar

      Jeff, I do post articles from websites as do others on here. The articles I do post, I have never said I ever wrote them. I sent you an email.

    10. Angela Avatar

      For pointswest:
      “Jeremy Doble was last seen on 8 February playing near his family’s home beside a flooded mangrove swamp in northern Queensland. Police now say he was attacked and eaten by a 14ft crocodile who was then trapped in a flooded river. The announcement came after police examined the crocodile, using non-lethal surgical procedure.

      “The family have requested that media respect their privacy at this time,” police said in a statement. Queensland officials say the animal will now be sent to a crocodile farm or zoo.

      The victim’s parents have reportedly asked authorities not to kill the crocodile. ”

    11. pointswest Avatar

      …and it is so unusual that it made the news.

  5. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    One little factoid that may or may not be relevant to the sign thing. Those two researchers had finished their work and were really anxious to get back to Bozeman ( a 3oo mile drive from Kitty Creek through Cody , or 225 miles through Yellowstone ). It was a Thursday , their work week was done, and they may have taken down the signs in their hurry to get rolling back to the office. It certainly would not have hurt to leave them up another day , and that probably is SOP protocol now. In fact, it should have been done in the interests of the cabin users and weekenders. After all, there were two griz snared and studied up there, not just the one. But there weren’t any other IGBC people around to go fetch signs a day or two later, and the Forest Service or G&F probably couldn’t be bothered to do chores.

    A nice example of Chaos Theory …how small things done/not done can cascade into major system wide events. Butterfly sneezes in West Africa seeding hurricanes in Jamaica; to prematurely removing a $ 1.00 sign to save time costing a life, perhaps ?

    By the way , when they shot the bear from the helicopter 1-1/2 days later, they knew it was Erwin’s bear. It had a radio collar. I believe it should have been trapped and relocated instead, but the grizzly researchers were no doubt in panic mode by then. They had never been in the mode of playing CSI Absaroka before. They overreacted.

    1. mikepost Avatar

      Cody, I agree. It may well be that the real root cause of this incident was agency pressure to keep payroll and expenses under control instead of letting the team use its judgement. We will never know….

  6. Virginia Avatar

    To pw who is looking for social justice in this situation – read “Mark of the Grizzly” by Scott McMillion. In every bear attack recorded in this book, the person who was attacked felt very strongly that the bear should not be destroyed. Our acceptance that humans are the unpredictable ones in these stories, not the bears, makes one realize that we are invading the bear’s territory, we are disturbing a bear with cubs or a bear with food. Social justice has no relevance in these situations. Bears do not understand social justice. It is just survival and self protection.

    1. jon Avatar

      Yeah, we go into their homes and they kill us and we go back out and kill them. When does one stop and say, why are we killing bears when he invade their homes, take their habitat away from them and kill them when they display their wild unpredictable behavior? It’s sickening how we treat animals and what we do to them. bears have a right to defend themselves whether it’s a human or not.

    2. pointswest Avatar

      When someone expresses a condescending demeanor where they write as some parent lecturing a child, it only diminishes their respectability. It is very childish behavior to put on parental airs. For someone over the age of 18 to regularly resort to this parent-to-child condescension, it usually indicates some serous neurosis and the corresponding inability to form an adult identity and to speak with other adults as adults.

      1) It’s not “social justice,” it is simply justice.
      2) I was not talking about myself, but people in general.
      3) My understanding of bear behavior is probably in the upper 0.5 percentile of North Americans. I’m sure it is above most people’s in this blog. I’m sure it is above jon’s. It is probably on par with nearly anyone else’s here with only a few exceptions.

    3. jon Avatar

      pw, given your past comments about bears like saying they committed an evil act against the hiker, it appears you don’t know very much about bear behavior. A bear’s behavior is unpredictable and it will attack when threatened. As virginia said pw, read mark of the grizzly by Scott Mcmillion. Every person that was attacked by a bear said that the bear that attacked them should not be destroyed.

    4. pointswest Avatar

      jon…discussions of good and evil are nearly independent of discussions of behavior…at least scientific discussions of behavior. We are talking about two separate fields of study. Good and evil is typically studied by theologians and philosophers as where behavior is typically studied by psychologists and behaviorists. In fact, psychologists will often make disclaimers that their opinions are objective and nonjudgmental. That is, they might comment on behavior without regard to its implications to good and evil. For example, you might read a behaviorists opinion of a Charles Manson or an Adolf Hitler and that opinion will be strictly about behavior without judgment of right/wrong, good/evil, or legal/illegal. They will make this clear to laypeople who might read their opinions. They regard behavior and philosophy/religion as two separate issues.

      I do too.

      When I said the bear killing the innocent hiker was an evil act, it was in a philosophical and judgmental context. I have repeated this over and over. In regard to the bear’s behavior, I have not differed significantly with anyone else’s opinions on this blog. I understand why the bear behaved the way it did…probably better than you. I believe my understanding of the bear’s behavior is similar to that of a behaviorist’s understanding or a wildlife biologist’s understanding (at lease those wildlife biologists who have training in behavior).

      My judgment on this as being an evil act was separate and distinct from the bear’s behavior. Can you understand this? …they are two issues, behavior and philosophy, that are different and it is important to not mix the two. I have repeated it many times and it is growing very old. Do you understand the difference between behavior and philosophy jon? Two people can have identical opinions about behavior but differ on the philosophical ramifications.

      This is the last time I am going over this. If you are going to keep up your condescending attitude, I am simply going to stop responding to because I am losing all respect and have already lost patients.

  7. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Jon you have stated this sentence a couple of times: There was also a feeling that if the bear had killed one human, it was much more likely to kill another.

    I have never understood who came up with that but it does not ring true. It is not like we taste really good to bears. . they eat us when we are rotten and sometimes fresh but we are not on their menu. It has never been proven or even related in any reliable story that bears get a taste for humans and it is like an addiction they just can’t shake. If they liked us many thousands of us would be dead now as we would be really easy pickings for a bear who wanted to eat humans. In your bear 101 you forgot to mention that a startled bear will swat something not intending to hurt it and if it is a human there is a good chance it will kill it. Bears don’t know how delicate we are. It is also possible that the bear was acting in this case like it really needed some help and the man approached with the idea of easing it some way. It could have been compassion for the bear that killed him. Really sad for both bear and man.

    1. Jay Avatar

      Baloney–there are lots of cases of people being killed and eaten down to a few bone scraps. Meat is meat to a bear, we are not unpalatable just because we are not a bear’s “typical” food item.

    2. jon Avatar

      Predators like leopards and tigers and lions have been known to eat humans after they find out how easy it is to kill us. I don’t believe this to be as true with bears. I don’t think many can fault an animal for going after the easiest prey and sometimes that is us. We are much easier to kill than say a prey animal that runs 35 mph. A bear might kill another person if that bear starts to go after people and see them as a food source, but not likely a bear that is startled by a human or feels threatened by one and that is why it attacks and may even kill the person. I don’t think there have been a lot of maneating bear cases where bears have purposely gone after people to eat them as a food source. I am sure it may have happened before.

    3. jon Avatar

      Jay, I agree with that. Meat is meat. I believe Timothy Treadwell was eaten by a bear.

    4. Jay Avatar

      Killed, and practically entirely consumed, along with his girlfriend who had the unfortunate luck to be with him when the inevitable happened.

    5. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      Call the bear biologist in Glacier, last time I talked with him, he stated, that in the 10 cases of bear deaths in the park, 5 of them we partially consumed, that is a 50% ratio, Yes Tim was consumed and his girlfriend was also partially consumed.

    6. Linda Hunter Avatar

      I agree that once a person is dead they are just meat to a bear. . what I said was that once a bear kills someone there is not evidence that shows they become a human stalker. Steven P. French’s paper on bear attacks says: The point that has puzzled me the most is not that grizzlies occasionally prey on humans, but why they don’t do it more often. As a potential prey species, humans are predictable and abundant, are easy to catch and easy to kill, and are easy to consume for a grizzly. So why don’t they prey on us as part of their routine feeding behavior?

      My point, which some of you missed was that killing someone in a defensive attack does not automatically give a grizzly bear the taste for humans . . at least not that has been documented. Of course, we should really interview the bear to make sure. After all there are humans who like to eat stuff like plastic twinkies . . who can account for taste?

    7. jon Avatar

      Hi Linda, I don’t believe there are many cases of bears that purposely go after humans as a food source. I never heard of any really, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. I also agree with you in that bears don’t develop a taste for humans when they kill them for self defense reasons. I do know that other predatory animals have infact developed a taste for humans if you want to call it that, but I just think of it as much more simpler, predators going after easy prey. No one can deny that humans are an easy target for predators like bears and big cats. We are defenseless and weak when compared to a big wild predator. I cannot speak for bears, but there have been quite a few cases of maneaters, specifically leopards and tigers and even lions that have killed humans and kept on killing humans until they were put down. When you have your natural prey base depleted because of humans and realize that humans are an easy meal, what predator wouldn’t go after us? The tsavo lions of 1898 is a good example of maneating. I myself do not believe it is unnatural behavior when a predator sees us as a food source. We are not exempt from being eaten and killed by wild predators and given the fact that we are much easier targets than their normal prey, it shouldn’t be a shock if a wild predator resorts to maneating given the fact that it doesn’t take much to kill one of us.

  8. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Oops it wasn’t Jon that said that . . sorry. . but I still wanted to address it.

    1. pointswest Avatar

      I said it once and jon repeated it.

      But what I said was that this is what people believe. Most people believe that if a bear kills a human once, it is more likely to do it again. I was not stating my opinion.

      However, I would say that this genral belief is likely true. If a bear fills is belly once on human flesh, as with a Skinner box, it has received positive reinforcement and has been classically condition to do the same act again.

  9. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    We really need to take this in context, when you are dead on the ground, the bear does not care if your human, they look at you a meat, there is nothing that says humans are off limits, although not as common as some would like to think, once you dead, your food…The only reason Erwin was not consumed at least partially, is because things happened so fast, if he had been there for more time, I would not have been surprised to see consumption..

  10. mikepost Avatar

    I find it surprising that many posting here do not want to recognize that a bear, like any wild major predator, can get habituated to humans as a food source. Jon has it pegged. Humans are one of the least resistant, low risk (when there is no gun involved and even then…) easy to catch food sources in the woods. Given that we cannot accurately gauge the mental state of a bear who has attacked a human, how can anyone justify letting another unsuspecting human take the risk that this bear now equates slow stupid bipeds with an easy meal. Its unfortunate, but it is what it is…

  11. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    I just read the interagency report. Lets see… if I read it right the snare was set 20,400 inches off the trail. Wow, so far away from human travel. Or if we go the other way this snare was set 600 yds. …or a quarter to third of a mile from a trail….not so far now…in fact so close if there was a meadow going to this snare from the trail one could see activities very easily.

  12. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    Oops, posted again.

    Now to continue. The guys writing the report stressed several times the on the ground researchers said they saw no sign of people visiting the trap site. Of course they were there multiple, multiple times themselves on horses. I caught most of my poachers by tracking horse prints so this meant a lot of looking down at the ground while travelling for miles parelling the boundary on my horse. I doubt I’d be concentrating on this if my main thought was looking ahead to see if there was a bear in the trap…I mean snare.

    And besides it is very difficult to pick out others horse tracks if folks (researchers) have been going up this route for days. To say these bear trappers didn’t see sign of other human life is another gag me reflex to me.

    But on the other hand I do guarentee any horse party going up this trail seeing horse tracks veering from the main path…or didn’t show sign of continueing on up this trail was picked up RIGHT away. Horse tracks here, but not there, means any guide is going to try seeing where and why those horse tracks left that trail.

    And I really doubt the griz team did anything other than leave the trail at the exact same spot each time they went to check this snare. Made tracking to the snare very easy for any horse party.

    Of course, local horse users know only naive (dumb) horse users give away their route off trail. Thus the guided horse party knew there could only be one of two things happening up kitty Creek with this veering off. Hanky panky or dumb govt. employees….And having those dangerous bear signs meant no one was up to hanky panky.

    Yes, everyone associated with the horse life in the area knew exactly where that snare was located. Now a naive cabin camping old guy, no matter how many years he enjoyed this respite would be in a fog. I’d say the horse folks in the Shoshone all were putting their ground down heeled packer boots on the guest house lodge railing and saying to each other, “What a fool”….and by the same thinking extended this to all the upper class city slicker summer vacationers. And they, of course, are right in their assessment..

    And the horse bound griz research guys knew the difference also. That is why they rode lickity split back to the “Spot”.

    Yes, 20,400 inches is a long ways into the woods. To me this just about sums up this INHOUSE investigation. Everyone in this investigative team has reason to maintain status quo.

    Why didn’t they show us a picture of the ripped up snare site…or show a picture of what cover there was between the trail and the trap site? I can guarentee there was just a veneer because those trappers have to have views all around in order not to get suprised by a mothewr bear who is staying in the area because her cub is in that snare.

    With these trapping terrain needs there should have been a good 31,680 inches to trap site from that trail…and they should have had a bit of poacher training in their resume to boot. Then they wouldn’t have left so many tracks for all those drug store horse flunkie hobbits (yes, I could always tell who was the guide and who was the client when these dudes were off their horses. The “little tiny, tiny prints always belonged to the heel grinders) to find their supposed secret trap site.

    Gag me, you “investigative” report authors.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan