Pathetic fear of grizzlies threatens justice in Erwin Evert mauling case

Has there ever been such a craven case?

There are grizzly ears in Kitty Creek, six miles east of Yellowstone Park, and one killed Erwin Evert in 2010.  Evert was an expert on the plants of Yellowstone and familiar with the area, but that summer he came upon a grizzly bear that was just coming out of the mental fog of being tranquilized by grizzly bear researchers.  Because the bear was confused,  surprised, or something else, the bear killed Evert . . . well that is what the case filed by Evert’s widow is about — why, who was responsible, did the location have a big influence on the event?

Nancy Freudenthal, the U.S. district judge in the case wanted to see the mauling site. So did the plaintiff and the defendent’s attorneys.  Now the judge has decided not to go because the U.S. Marshall said he could not guarantee her safety or that of the other approximately 20 people who would come. Why?  There are marading grizzly bears and location is so “remote” that someone might be hurt by a bear or somehow injured in an inaccessible place.

In this case, “remote” means 3/4 mile of the nearest cabin (and road) and that grizzly bears might attack a noisy party of twenty or more people, who would presumably be guarded by experts with guns and pepper spray.

These are preposterous arguments.  The only thing at risk here is justice in the case.

Here is more on the decision not to visit the site Judge won’t see Wyoming mauling site due to bear risk. Associated Press.




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  1. Real Nice Guy Avatar
    Real Nice Guy

    It seems the U.S. Marshall argument against the visit supports the defense case. If heavily armed marshalls and wildlife experts can not “guarantee” safety for a short visit, then locals and visitors are venturing at their own risk into known grizzly bear habitat and are solely responsible for the outcome.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      But fact is “A 430-pound grizzly killed Erwin F. Evert, of Park Ridge, Ill., six miles east of Yellowstone in June, 2010. AND……

      The male grizzly had just reawakened after being trapped, tranquilized and studied by members of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, which is tasked with researching grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region”

      Could this research team have done a hell of a lot more to prevent this human death? Could this human (Mr. Evert) done a hell of a lot more to prevent his own death?

      “Evert’s widow, Yolanda Evert, has filed a $5 million wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government, saying the researchers should not have trapped the bear so close to a trail and cabins. She also alleges they prematurely took down signs that warned passers-by of their work”

      Yeah, this has “lawsuit” written all over it but being able to identify the actual players in this and their responsibilities? Its gonna take years to sort out.

      Mire? Lawyers? Hand in hand.

  2. Virginia Avatar

    This is ridiculous! My son was just trail running up Kitty Creek July 4th. Probably hundreds of people are up in that area every summer with no incidents. People are getting way out of control with their fear-mongering and frightening people about going into the outdoors. Oh well, I guess that leaves more space for those of us who are not afraid to venture out, take precautions and be aware of our surroundings. Has the U.S. Marshal ever been up Kitty Creek? The judge (Nancy) is from Cody – she should have some idea of just how dangerous it is to go up into the mountains around here. Give me a break.

  3. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Is there a school bus stop up there? That seems to attract bison and wolves, so why not grizzlies? Do you suppose anyone has taken into account that you are more likely to be killed on the drive up there than by a bear?

  4. JB Avatar

    Good grief.

  5. Wm Bova Avatar
    Wm Bova

    This case is so close it will probably be settled before it goes to the jury. Both parties were clearly negligent, and all it takes is 51% to prevail. A reasonable offer will probably be made and it will be interesting to see where it leads from there. Does Ms. Evert need the $$$ to justify her loss?

    Incidentally, anyone who trail runs in grizzly territory is only asking for trouble.

  6. WM Avatar

    Don’t know what the terrain is like there, but 3/4 mile walk on relatively even ground, even for a middle age judge with a bunch of lawyers and gear in tow can’t be more than 15-20 minute walk, then a couple hours if that long to gather information from both parties about the location of the tranquilized bear and where Dr. Evert met his fate. Flanked by a couple of properly armed US marshalls, and give everybody a can of bear spray, its statistically probably much safer than going to the court room these days, and getting a little fresh air to boot.

    The larger question in my mind is whether stomping through the woods – grizzly country or not- is a good use of a federal judge’s time. She apparently will be the finder of fact in this case (instead of a jury), and ultimately the “decider” (I’m still trying to get used to that term, “decider,” since George W appropriated it during his tenure.) of government liability, and if there is any how much US taxpayer money Mrs. Evert gets for this wrongful death suit.

    Help me out here, just what kind of chicken hearted folks are being recruited to the US Marshal Service these days? Bet Marshall Dillon would have said, “Let’s go. And, Chester, you ask Miss Kitty if she wants to go, and if she’d mind having somebody over at the Long Branch pack us all a nice big picnic lunch.”

  7. Mtn Mama Avatar
    Mtn Mama

    The anesthetic agents used likely caused the bear’s negative reaction. Dont know what the observation time is for recovery of darting or the halflife of the drugs used, perhaps this is the biologist shortcomings. I can tell you that humans wake up from anesthesia in a variety of moods. It is a shame that both the bear and the human lost their lives. The lawsuit and the “inability to guarantee safety” are over the top. Perhaps they should avoid going to movie theaters as well?

  8. Sam Parks Avatar

    The blaming and vilification of Mr. Evert by the IGBST (with the help of the media) right after the mauling was utterly disgraceful. At first it was claimed that Mr. Evert knew the trap site existed and that he was “anxious…to see what they (the government trappers) were up to.” In fact, we now know that Mr. Evert was only aware of trap site 2. He was mauled at trap site 3, while taking a route he had taken for 30 years. There were no warning signs when he got there because the trappers had removed them as they left the area. Blaming the victim, however, served a purpose from their perspective; redirecting the blame outwardly. The incident raises serious questions about the trapping/drugging/collaring of grizzly bears. What new information are we really getting here? And is it more important than the life of even one man and one bear? I don’t think it can be justified. Furthermore, what are they doing trapping grizzly bears and drugging them with PCP so close to human habitation? I have always hated bear mauling lawsuits, but this case has very special circumstances and frankly I hope Mrs. Evert is able to get a little bit of justice after having to put up with the IGBST’s slanderous campaign of blaming the victim while she was trying to grieve. Utterly disgraceful, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from IGBST.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      “The incident raises serious questions about the trapping/drugging/collaring of grizzly bears. What new information are we really getting here?”

      Very good question Sam.

      With our technology today, gathering scat & hair along with photo identification, would be far less invasive (and probably not near as costly)

      1. Immer Treue Avatar
        Immer Treue

        Been brought up before, but the Craighead brothers, and their pioneering studies

        As I’m relegated toa hand held for some time, can’t locate the video where bear rams station wagon.

  9. CodyCoyote Avatar

    That the US Marshall service would advise against visiting the scene of the crime ( and it was a crime IMHO ) because of a percieved public safety issue can be taken two ways.

    One is that the US Cops are doing their part to buffer the defendant by prejudicing or at least ‘ shading’ the case , the defendant being the US Government, that employs them both. On that point , it’s despicable. I’m wondering which US Attorney will actually be defending USFWS/IGBT when this case is heard , since US Marshalls answer to US Attorneys . While Judge Nancy Freudenthal is the sitting judge, her husband , former Wyo Gov Dave Freudenthal , a Democrat, was for many years a US Attorney himself for Wyoming and Montana, and had the dubious distinction of prosecuting the first case of an illegal wolf kill. Prior to Dave being elected Governor, wife Nancy was an attorney for the Wyoming Governor’s office: handling intragovernmental affairs under a Republican. Not much is made of the fact that Gov. Dave submitted his own wife’s name for the federal judgeship , along with two others , before he left office.

    But on the other point, the US Marshall’s assertion also makes the case for the plaintiff Evert by admitting the area is inherently dangerous because of bear activity . Guess who didn’t take steps to mitigate that danger and keep the public’s safety at the fore by neglecting their responsibility that place and time ?

    This could very well be one of those case where blame is apportioned… Erwin Evert certainly shared some role in the events of that day , say 30 percent culpable, and the remainder—the bulk of the blame for the bear attack—can be laid squarely at the feet of the impatient careless researchers, the 70 percent.

    I used to spend a lot of time hiking , backpacking , snowshoeing and XC skiing on Kitty Creek. Yes, there are bears galore in an area populated with summer cabins and a Boy Scout Camp. You hear the full spectrum of concerns about Grizzlies on Kitty Creek , from outright fear of them to nonchalance , but other than a few cabin burgles there have been few negative grizzly-human collisions thereabouts. The bears generally behave and mostly avoid humans. The humans would likely be astounded to know how many bears are nearby or using Kitty Creek at any given time , but THAT is because we humans really encroached on them there in a big way with recreational development. As is typical, the bears have been a lot more tolerant of humans than the reverse.

    This bear was jacked on drugs. I do not know what the US Marshall is jacked on…

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Thank you Cody for these very important background comments. I thought district judge Freudenthal was related to former governor Dave F.

      . . . and I agree from many experiences in Kitty Creek when we were writing the book on backpacking the Washakie and Teton Wilderness, this drainage is prime occupied grizzly country. It is right from the start, though not so dense that armed marshalls and a group of more than 5 people need to feel any danger.

      1. CodyCoyote Avatar

        Ralph, I have to say that any percieved ” fear” of grizzlies by the US Marshall(s) is pretty hollow. It isn’t fear so much as it is an excuse to tilt the case by , for , and of the Government ( defendant). I’m gonna stand on that. I hope a lot of bright white sunshine gets shone on this in the pre-hearing run up.

        I don’t get Bova’s comments above and below at all , except that the lower one is pretty ugly. Chuck Neal is a good friend of mine and a very honorable man …nothing Bova insinuates can be reconciled at all.

        In all my years ” running” Kitty Creek, I only saw bear sign, not grizzlies. I feel neglected. Except one late June day hike up to the crest of Howell Mountain above the Paradise Valley meadows just past the springs Kitty Creek heads from , to the summit where there’s a classy grave marker, an Lo! -a Black Bear sow and her three cubs on top of the world. I got a long range photo of them. Four bears. But still waiting to encounter my first grizzly thereabouts after 45 years.

        I’d be happy to take judge Nancy Roan Freudenthal on a field trip. No Marshalls need apply.

        1. mikepost Avatar

          Do you guys actually think that the US Marshalls have any clue about grizzlies? There is no conspiracy here, it is just a bunch of cops who know their way around the prisons and the inner city but are clueless about wildlife issues. Quite frankly I dont want anyone who is clueless offering to provide security for such a trip. The fact that they may be misperceiving the entire threat issue is hardly their fault. You might as well ask the Harlem Globetrotters if it is safe to go out there…the DEFAULT answer is NO when you have no experience/education to make the call.

        2. Wm Bova Avatar
          Wm Bova

          You lost me Cody. Where did I besmirch Mr. Neal’s reputation? I only said honorable things about him.

  10. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    PCP and similar drugs take up to eight (8) days to clear from the body. Any researcher using these drugs on a Grizzly should be held legally responsible for the bear’s actions for at least a week after darting the animal. In other words, these drugs should not be used on any wildlife for any reason escept to protect someone’s life.
    The wildlife research industry is out of control. I hope the judge rules in Mrs.Everts’ favor.

    1. TC Avatar

      Nonsense. There have been no pharmacokinetics studies performed and published with Telazol (tiletamine/zolazepam) in grizzly bears, so your “8 days” is based on fantasy. There has been a pharmacokinetic study performed with this agent in polar bears (the next best proxy), and the serum half lives for both drugs were hours (as in less than 2 hours), with minimal traces of mostly zolazepam metabolites left in tissues after a day or so. This mirrors findings in pigs, dogs, cats, several monkey species, and others, although this is not definitive (see below). Also, the use of tiletamine and ketamine in animals is not equable to the abuse of phencyclidine in humans – this is your anthropomorphic attempt to equate apples and oranges. It is inaccurate to generalize with pharmacologic agents in any two wildlife species (for instance, sensitivity to a wide variety of immobilization agents, even between species as closely related as white-tailed deer and mule deer), let alone throw humans into the mix. I don’t believe wildlife immobilization and immobilization agent pharmacokinetics really are areas where armchair amateurs need to be meddling or adding their two cents worth.

      1. Nancy Avatar

        “I don’t believe wildlife immobilization and immobilization agent pharmacokinetics really are areas where armchair amateurs need to be meddling or adding their two cents worth”

        In otherwords, leave it to the experts TC? The “experts” who might of cost Mr. Evert his life?

        1. TC Avatar

          Leave developing safe and effective methods of chemical immobilization to experts, yes. Exactly. Precisely

          How they are deployed in the field and by whom is another story, and there agencies are responsible. Responsible for all aspects of human and animal health and safety. And not having any more facts than anyone else in this case I will not offer my opinion on who was right or who was wrong.

      2. YNP4me Avatar

        The fact is, the Evert bear was darted with Telazol. Leaving a drugged bear with an off-label used drug for anyone to stumble upon is asking for a lawsuit. Not providing residents and visitors with direct warnings about bear trapping & drugging is asking for it. Removing the limited information warning signs before the bear was awake and moving was criminal.

        No anesthetic has been approved for use in bears. The use of telazol in species other than dogs and cats is off-label. Telazol is used off-label because the drug company has not spent millions of dollars to test the drug on bears and they won’t because of the cost issue.
        There is no study on the use of Telazol in Grizzly bears.

        Back in November, the Billings Gazette ran a story where Bear Management’s Mark Bruscino darted a grizly bear. Take a look at how Wyoming’s Bear Management people
        approach a drugged Grizzly Bear near a ranch. (The
        grizzly bear was eating dead cattle in a pit near a ranch according to the Billings Gazette.)

        This bear team, of course, knows that they drugged the
        bear and that a drugged grizzly bear can be dangerous.

        See the GUN aimed at the drugged bear? It’s clear they chose a gun over bear spray. It’s obvious how serious they were in dealing with a drugged bear.

        You can bet there are no signs protecting citizens where bears have been trapped that state
        “Bear Trapping taking place using an off-label drug that is not approved on bears. Carry a gun ready to shoot to protect your life. Also beware that the people darting the bear may not follow protocol putting your life in further danger”.

        Sometimes, a sign really needs to get the point across AND it certainly needs to remain posted.

        In the meantime… bear trapping in the GYE continues…

        Have you been warned properly?

        1. JB Avatar

          “There is no study on the use of Telazol in Grizzly bears.”

          Horse pucky. A quick search on Google Scholar with the key words “ursus, immobilization, [and] Telazol” turned up 442 results; use “grizzly, immobilization, [and] Telazol” and you get 242.

          See, for example:

          Taylor et al. 1989. J. Wild. Manage. 53:(4):978-981.

          Cattet et al. 2003. Ursus. 14(1):88-93.

          There are also numerous studies on using Telazol to immobilize black bears. Seems lots of researchers are using cocktails, such as Telazol & Xylazine (see p. 18 of this report for a description:

          1. JB Avatar

            See also:

            Lin et al. 2008. Review: Telazol – a review of its pharmacology and use in veterinary medicine. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 16:383-418.

            This article reviews the use of Telazol in various species. Here are the comments about side effects of Telazol: “Rapid induction, predictable recovery, wide safety margin, few adverse side-effects.”

            The review found 4 studies that evaluated the use of Telazol for brown, grizzly or Kodiak bears.

            1. JB Avatar

              Sorry, I should’ve noted that the comments about side effects were specific to grizzly bears, again:

              “Rapid induction, predictable recovery, wide safety margin, few adverse side-effects.”

            2. YNP4me Avatar

              Field notes for this incident could include:

              A Grizzly Bear was darted with 7.2 Telazol.

              Telazol was used off label on an ESA listed Grizzly bear.
              This anesthetic has not been approved for use in bears.

              Within hours of being darted with Telazol, the drugged Grizzly bear mauled to death a human.

              No signs were present to warn anyone that a DRUGGED bear was
              in the area. No signs warning people that the drug used on the bear was used off-label and is not approved for use in grizzly bears.

              More field studies might be needed!

              Seriously people, don’t volunteer.

            3. JB Avatar

              Good grief, it’s been used on grizzly bears [at least] since the early 1980s. Lin et al. (citation above) reviewed studies that show Telazol was used in more than 150 wild animals–from pronghorn, moose and sitka deer to jaguar, cheetah and clouded leopard–I’m willing to bet it isn’t approved for use with these species either. That doesn’t mean it is inherently unsafe, as your message insinuates.

              Drug companies won’t approve it for use in grizzly bears because there’s no money in it. Too few users.

              Today I’ll be giving my dog Ivomec approved for sheep and swine. It’s the same wormer that is contained medications approved for dogs, but much more concentrated (you can kill your dog if you don’t know what you’re doing.) If you do know what you’re doing, you can pay ~$50 for a bottle that will last you near the lifetime of the dog, as opposed to $100 per year for the commercial crap approved for dogs. Over the lifetime of my dog, that’s about a grand.

            4. JB Avatar

              Follow up…

              According to the FDA, Telazol is approved only for cats and dogs (

              So every one of the more than 150 wild animals it has been used with is an “off label” use.

          2. TC Avatar

            Good god, you’re a “scientist”? NONE of those studies are pharmacokinetics studies. They are field reports and immobilization trials, in essence trying to determine if various drug cocktails achieve the goals of the investigators – rapid immobilization, muscle relaxation, stable vitals, reliable oxygen saturation, plane of anesthesia necessary for various procedures, reversible, etc.

            People – spare me your Google wisdom. That dog won’t hunt.

            1. JB Avatar

              TC: You might consider going back and reading my original comment, which was in response to this assertion: “There is no study on the use of Telazol in Grizzly bears”, not your your comment.

              I am well aware of the difference between a field investigation and a pharmacokinetics study. The pertinent points here are: (1) despite assertions to the contrary, there have been several investigations of “the use of Telazol in Grizzly bears”, and (2) at least some of these investigations specifically make notes of effects on bears’ behavior–which is highly relevant to the current conversation, don’t you think?

            2. JB Avatar

              More on behavioral responses of bears to Telazol (From Taylor et al. 1989., citation above)…

              [Again, these are provided because they are germane to the above conversation regarding what can/should be anticipated from bears who were administered this drug]

              “Behavioral responses observed during induction in the order they appeared were: disoriented gait, high stepping, loss of use of hindlegs, licking lips, loss of use of forelegs, loss of head and neck movement, nystagmus, and loss of tongue movement.”

              “Depth and length of anesthesia varied with drug dose. At 7-9 mg/kg, approximately 60 minutes (range = 45-75 min) of safe handling time were available to process bears.”

              “No antagonist is currently available for this drug; however,recovery is rapid and predictable. Recovery phases mimic in reverse order the signs observed during induction but occur at a much slower rate. Recovery occurred between 85 and 160 minutes post-induction (t = 21).”

            3. WM Avatar

              It strikes me the most useful information for field work, comes from those who have done the work before in the field (duh). How does this stuff work, and is there high variablility on young bear – old bear; male – female; sedate – agitated state (think in terms of the animal’s own adrenal system effect on how the drug work); bear condition skinny or fat; ambient air temperature/season, and who knows how many other variables that would likely not be considered in pharmacokenetic studies, which are done for the purpose of bringing a product to market (and avoiding product liability claims).

              I would think the folks who do the field work at some personal risk of safety – and who depend on the right dosage/cocktail to sedate the bear quickly, and who want to know how long the bear will be incapacitated by the drugs administered would pay very close attention to the years/decades of field work done by others to try to get it right. It is how we learn to do most tasks, safely. And, then protocols are important, including the part where they are carefully followed (so that mistakes are not made that result in people getting hurt).

              And, in the end, the experts who may be called on for their opinions in the court case over Mr. Evert’s death will likely be the folks with the field experience, not some lab jockey who has been doing pharmacokenetic studies associated with bringing a drug to market – especially for veterinary application in most common species of interest (and to for which most of the product is sold).

            4. Jon Way Avatar

              I haven’t followed this thread closely but yes Telazol is the common choice of drug for carnivores. It is very predictable in how the animal wakes up from the drug despite not having an antagonistic. Usually within 4-6 hours (or even less if you under-dose the animal) the animal is awake and moving again. For eastern coyotes/coywolves, I will usually simply put back in a cage in release around 6 hours after being sedated.

              This comment is about Telazol in general and not specifically the bear that mauled the botanist.

            5. YNP4me Avatar

              JB, are you arguing that you think this situation was safe?

              I was very clear from my first post:
              No anesthetic has been approved for use in bears. The use of telazol in species other than dogs and cats is off-label. Telazol is used off-label because the drug company has not spent millions of dollars to test the drug on bears and they won’t because of the cost issue. There is no study on the use of Telazol in Grizzly bears.

              I stand by what I’ve written. Why, you’ve even repeated some of what I said – link and all.

              The bottom line and fact is, Telazol is not approved for use in Grizzly bears.

              As another note – Yellowstone grizzly bears have concentrations of compounds that other grizzly bears (Alaska and Canada) don’t have. Much is unknown about the use of Telazol in Yellowstone grizzly bears.

              Is a ‘darted a few hours ago and drugged’ bear in the forest safe for humans to come across?

              Ahahaha… the US Marshall does not think its safe with undrugged bears. I’m guessing they are not willing to dart a bear with an off-label drug and stumble upon it in the forest while its waking up from being drugged, either.

            6. JB Avatar


              Of course I’m not arguing that the situation was safe; what I am arguing is the fact that the use was “off label” isn’t what made the situation unsafe.

              There absolutely HAVE been numerous studies on the use of the Telazol and 100s of species of wildlife (again, see the citations I provided), despite your assertion to the contrary. Moreover, these studies document the behavior of bears (and other wild animals) in response to the drug, which is highly relevant information, don’t you think?

              Your assertion that this was inherently unsafe because the drug was not approved for use with grizzlies ignores that the drug is used (and has been studies) with more than 150 species (while it is approved for 2–cats and dogs). You also (cleverly, I might add) insinuate that something is amiss here because the use is off label, all the while ignoring that nearly all drugs used with wildlife are “off label” because no drug company is going to pay to test it on 100s of species their drug may or may not be used with. BTW: If you do some looking around, you’ll see the Telazol is commonly used in zoos to anesthetize a variety of animals wild animals. Uh oh, that’s an off-label use, their lives must be in danger. C’mon, give us a break?!

        2. WM Avatar

          From the Billings Gazette artle:

          ++ Last year, there was a record 295 conflicts with bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The prior 10-year average was 172 conflicts. This year, as of the end of October, there were nearly 300, though 75 of those were the same bear in Idaho wandering from house to house.++

          Expect more grizzlies to be tranquilized and relocated in the future.


          Larry Thorngren,

          Caught once again without verifiable facts and poorly reasoned opinions based on the lack of facts, I see.

          This time, joined by another fact deprived associate. This one, advocating the use of bearspray on a tranquilized bear. OK, so you have a downed bear in a snare, disoriented with possible impairment of sight and olfactory senses due to the medication. This means the deterrent effect of the capsacin may not work. Then, even if it would work, the site would not be habitable for the researchers to do their job, to transfer and release the bear. Good thinking, there, YNP4me.

    2. JB Avatar

      “I hope the judge rules in Mrs.Everts’ favor.”

      And how do you suppose this will affect agency actions? If people start winning lawsuits against state and federal agencies when they are killed or injured by wildlife then any animal that shows any type of aggressive tendency will be controlled asap to reduce agency risk.

  11. Wm Bova Avatar
    Wm Bova

    First of all, trap site 3 was not part of Evert’s regular route. It was well off his usual hike route, and Evert clearly made a conscious effort to “see what those guys are up to” (and he knew what they were up to)at that trap site. So to say he was ambushed as he made one of his usual circuitous nature hikes is incorrect. He followed the horse tracks to the site and lost his life. This is a comparative negligence decision and usually the plaintiff has the option of a jury trial or judges decision.

    Whoever makes the decision, it will be based on apportionment of negligence. As I said earlier, the decision can be made with a minimum of 51% negligence. Is it that close? I think so.

    The insinuation the IGBST looked to mitigate liability in the Press is silly. Nothing was presented to the press that was not a part of the final investigation. Is Chuck Neal a part of this so called conspiracy to deny Ms. Evert her $$$? I think not, as Mr. Neal was a former good friend of the Everts’. What possible benefit would Mr. Neal receive by not telling the truth.

    The theory of an “out of court settlement slam dunk” by blogger Dave Smith prior to a decision to delist the Grizzly has been debunked. Will an out of court settlement occur prior to a final decision? It’s possible, but it won’t be based on that reasoning.

    1. Sam Parks Avatar

      This is completely false. He did not know about trap site #3, that’s been conceded by IGBST. I would suggest you all take a look at Doug Peacock’s article in Counterpunch regarding the Kitty Creek mauling. As you know, Doug Peacock probably knows more about G.Y.E. grizzly bears than any living person.

      1. Wm Bova Avatar
        Wm Bova

        Sam, you are not giving Evert the benefit of common sense. I read Doug’s article and I believe his heart is in the right place, but as usual you have proponents on both sides of the issue, and Doug falls in line with keeping the bear on the endangered list. I’m not siding with either viewpoint.

        Doug does not even mention Evert’s friend Chuck Neal by name. He intimates it as a confused statement by a friend. It was not a confused statement, it was as clear as day. Evert said he saw the sign at site #2 the week before, and Chuck told him not to go anywhere near where these guys were working. Neal said they were probably baiting sites and it was extremely dangerous. He contained his curiosity for a week until they rode by his cabin that fateful day. A while later he told his wife he was going to up the trail to see what those guys were up to. He had no plans of hiking his usual circuitous route.

        Now did he know about site #3? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a man with Evert’s experience could find it by tracking the horses. Doug said Evert arrived at the site around 2 pm, and that it was part of his usual hiking route. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is no way to determine what time Evert arrived at the site, and it wasn’t part of his usual hiking route.

        Is there negligence on the part of both parties? Of course, and the final determination will come with a settlement or through due process in the court.

      2. Virginia Avatar

        I tried to access Doug Peacock;s article in Counterpunch, but I could not find it. Can you tell me how you got the article? Thanks.

  12. Nancy Avatar

    “He followed the horse tracks to the site and lost his life”

    Ouch! But 51% of the blame? For being just alittle too curious as to what was going on in his neighborhood?

    For the defendent, I’d guess from your remarks Wm Bova.

    1. Wm Bova Avatar
      Wm Bova

      My viewpoint is Ms. Evert deserves a nominal monetary settlement.

      It has been intimated by Ms. Evert, and their daughter that Mr. Evert was a stubborn and hardheaded man. If he had listened to Mr. Neal and his wife, he would probably be alive today. The biologists were negligent by leaving the site too soon and removing the sign. No excuses there.

  13. YNP4me Avatar

    It seems like the case still needs more bear education happening!

    Has someone asked the US Marshall and Judge to name one bear incident with 15 or more people trampling through a forest that resulted in a bear attack?

    The answer is NONE since documented history began.

    They planned to hike with a group of 20 or more and it’s unsafe?

    I wonder if they’ve posted new bear warning signs for Kitty Creek with the opinion of the US Marshall and the judge.

  14. mtn mamma Avatar
    mtn mamma

    TC, Thank You for your insight on the pharmacology of immobilization drugs in bears. I brought up the “recovery” phase of darting not as an armchair medler, but as a Post Anesthesia RN. I have recovered hundreds upon hundreds of humans from both general and monitored anesthesia care. Confusion and hallucinations are common with Ketamine. Just curious what the process was with Grizzlies and if there are recovery guidlines that may have been violated in this case.

    1. TC Avatar

      Mtn Mamma – don’t know. I wasn’t there and I don’t have their immobilization protocol sitting in front of me. It’s easy to assign blame (on both sides) from the comfort of my desk and chair, but I’m loathe to do it. This is why we have trials and expert witnesses – to determine what went wrong, and in an ideal world to prevent it from happening again. Even if that takes punitive action against someone to send the message.

      Bears recover from Telazol better than many other species. It’s still not like waking from a nap. Dissociative agents have their drawbacks. I expect it’s too much to ask of any bear to be in recovery and have another human being walk in on them, but again, I wasn’t there (and the two living beings that were both are dead).

      My gut tells me there was a whopping failure of common sense on both sides of this tragic event, and that yes, perhaps proper protocol (whether written in print as an SOP or not) was violated. And that sometimes fate and circumstance conspire and bad things happen. There will be no winners, even if there is a winner in court.

  15. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Cougars and wolves and bears, oh my!

  16. CodyCoyote Avatar

    This is a bit of a digression , but : Regarding large animals waking up from tranquilization I have an indelible memory from my youth. It was an episode of Mutual of Omaha’s ” Wild Kingdome” with Marlin Perkins, the classic TV show of our youth. They had darted a large African elephant , done the body work and exam, and were in the phase of waking the animal back up. Perkins is narrating from camera right, while a young black helper walks up to the prone elephant with a huge syringe. He sticks the needle in the elephant’s neck while Perkins narrates ” it should take 10 to 15 minutes for the antidote to take effect and the elephant get back on his feet. ”

    Actually , it took about 10 seconds and that 6-ton pachyderm was on its feet , spinning and stomping and bellering , looking for that @#&ing primate that darted him. Marlin exits camera right, with vigor.

    One thing I do know about grizzly bear research. The more you learn about bears, the less you know. Another thing I know is that the drugs like Telazol and Special K affect different animals differently , and not always predictably so. This from a man I know who darted dozens of bears before he retired.

    I for one have a huge tolerance for Demerol/Codeine , requiring about 3X the ” normal ” dosage to work . Your mileage may vary. The Kitty Creek bear was a variable, for sure.

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      Yeah, Vicodin has done nothing for me other than make me angry. Remember once coming out of anathesia, I wasn’t the most pleasant person.

      That said, I had a friend who was all “luded” and vodkad up, took down a merge sign with the right side of his body when he naturally lost control of his motorcycle. Story had it, while in the er, they could smell he had been drinking, and had no idea what else he had ingested, so no anathesia as he was unconscious to boot. When they attempted to catheterize him, he came to enough of his senses to strike out and deliver a haymaker to the doctor who was attending him. And yes, my friend was a “bear” of a fellow.

  17. Richard G. Avatar
    Richard G.

    One of my dogs had a big tumor under his leg ,doesn’t matter. He needed a drain, the tube fell off his drain. Now he had valium, the doctor ,in fact two doctors told me his wild side side might come to the surface.His inhibitions are gone for the moment,well they sure were. I had to put a shirt on him to soak up the fluid,this dog , could bite if pushed, came at me with everything he had. I put some heavy shirts and and gloves so his bite could not sink his teeth in me.So as for this bear,waking up from a drug he did not want in the first place,he will go after the first person he sees,espically if he thinks ,that is the one who druged him in the first pace.

  18. Wm Bova Avatar
    Wm Bova

    Well conspiracy theorist Dave Smith is at it again in his latest journalistic endeavor. Again he attacks USFWS and IGBST as willing and knowing participants in a coverup to mislead the public. He intimated that Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen had to have the bear destroyed to make it appear that the agencies didn’t know why the grizzly killed Erwin Evert. So if the bear were allowed to live then the public would understand why the bear killed Erwin Evert? Many people, including Dave feel the bear should have just been relocated. I don’t think that was an option given the possibility of future litigation.

    He also refers to my comments about Evert tracking the biologists to site #3. He states there is no way to prove it, and it’s just speculation. Ever hear of circumstantial evidence? Executions have taken place over just that.

    Mr. Smith then repeats his theory that by the time the in-house investigation is released about the mistakes made by the biologists….it really didn’t matter….as the public had been snookered thru previous statements that Evert had ignored warnings prior to his death.

    In my opinion it’s cases like these that point out the frailties of the system. Words are misspoke, mistakes are made, and people find it easy to point out all of these things after the fact. Although imperfect, the parlances of the legal system will do the best it can to sort out and render a decision that some will like and others may not.

    1. YNP4me Avatar

      Wm Bova “I don’t think that was an option given the possibility of future litigation.”

      All bears pose a future litigation risk, don’t they?
      Are all Wallace related bears ‘safe’?
      Are darted and relocated bears ‘safe’?

      Are you of the belief that a just darted hours ago drugged grizzly bear is safe for anyone? What about a grizzly bear darted with an off-label used drug – darted while estimating it’s weight and how much should be used? All people should find that bear ‘safe’ and meet up with it while recovering?

      Was leaving a recovering drugged bear only unsafe for Mr. Evert or was it unsafe for everyone, you and the US Marshall included?

      1. Wm Bova Avatar
        Wm Bova

        You’re asking me to wade into waters I know nothing about, but from a common sense point of view I’ll give you my 2 cents.

        GB’s in the GYE are unique. I certainly believe they need more monitoring than GB’s in other lower 48 ecological areas. Now how to do this in a manner that’s safe for the bears and safe for the public seems to be the water mark of perfection. The options are snares/darting, mobile traps, hair sampling, and observation…..the last two being benign. Because of their geographical limitations, mobil traps are best suited for habituated problem bear, so this leaves the remaining 3. Since snares/darting seems to be the only controversial method, should they discard it altogether? Since you seem to have a problem with the cocktail of off label drugs presently used, do they wait until the perfect clinical trial comes along that will put a drug on the market that has been approved for use in GB’s? Are labeled drugs today not without problematic and unpredictable side effects?

        These are all questions that are considered when you weigh the risks/benefits of any study. The methods are always being tweaked and morphed as the learning curve comes down, so I think we need to continue to oversee and critique those in charge as they move forward.

      2. JB Avatar


        Keep in mind that all University-led studies will require their researchers to receive approval from their Animal Care and Use Committee–usually staffed with board-certified vets that are checking research protocols against the industry standard.

        You’re full of insinuation, but short on details. What exactly is it that you propose? What properties does Telazol have that make its use unsafe? If not Telazol, what would you replace it with. What handling protocols would you propose? What exactly did these folks do wrong?

        1. Nancy Avatar

          “Keep in mind that all University-led studies will require their researchers to receive approval from their Animal Care and Use Committee”

          Curious JB. At what point do you think our species will take a big step back and ask the question – are all of these studies REALLY necessary?

          These studies, that are continuously funded $$, year, after year, after year. Studies that continue to “deploy” our species out into the field to capture, dart, drug, monitor, tag, track, collar etc. so many other species (not just here, but around the planet) Species that seemed to have had NO problems existing side by side in the past, with millions of other species.

          When are Universities (and the funds that support their studies)
          gonna buckle down and realize that mankind IS the #1 invasive species on the planet now and the biggest contributor to the decline of so many other other species?

          Anyone funding THAT concern and does it get any media attention as our population, worldwide, just topped 7 billion AND the space program went tits up so there’s no hope anytime soon, of colonizing another planet 🙂

          1. JB Avatar

            “When are Universities (and the funds that support their studies)
            gonna buckle down and realize that mankind IS the #1 invasive species on the planet…”

            Universities do not come upon “realizations”–they are institutions that house people of many backgrounds and opinions. More to the point, Universities and those of us who work for them have no more political power than your average citizen. So even if the researchers and administers all suddenly came to this realization, that doesn’t mean anything will change.

            Now it’s my turn, Nancy. How is it that you are aware of the many problems our species has caused other animals? Was it through intuition, spider-sense, or perhaps, through those university studies you so disdain?

      3. WM Avatar

        Yes, YNP4me, I, too, am inclined to join the dog pile.

        You seem very critical of the drugs being used for sedation, and procedures in place. Got anything better in mind, short of expensive clinical trials for commercial products for this application which are probably not economically justified, even if they have the possiblity (and of course not a proven certainty) of being more grizzly bear friendly?

        And the answer can’t be don’t use off label drug cocktails to sedate bears, because that is, by definition, not an answer, as it does not really meet a current need, or come close to solving a problem if you need to move bears around or conduct research on them for scientific purposes and to meet obligations under federal law (ESA delisting).

        Also, if you will, please enlighten us with more on your background to opine wih such authority on this topic.

        1. CodyCoyote Avatar

          You’all should know that the bear in question …the one shot the next morning from a helicopter by the Sheriff… was unknown to researchers. It was a ” virgin” bear. It likely had few human encounters before this one. So it got the full treatment. it is a safe bet to say the bear was adversely conditioned to humans in a big way from this encounter, besides still being jacked on drug withdrawls when Erwin came upon it suddenly. The bear’s reaction was likely automatic, a reflexive defense response. It is likely Erwin had no idea the bear was there till it was in his face , and the bear certainly had some ” institutional memory ” about these damn bipedal primates. For all this, two supreme creatures lost their lives.

          By the way , that was not the only bear those two yahoo trappers ” managed” that fateful day . There was another snare and bear a mile further up the mountain from where Erwin had his run in, caught and released after the usual manhandling.

          Also klnow that the day in question was one of extremely violent weather… tornadic winds that were toppling trees and making life in the forst absolutely miserable for every living thing. It was a Devil Wind day . The researchers were motivated to get the heck outta there and back on the road to Bozeman , and in their rush they cut corners and didn’t follow their routine site exit procedures. Turns out their day was far from over. It became a long, long night of searching and interviewing ( read: Inquisition ) all the while.

          Depositions in this case were taken by both plaintiff and defense attorneys in mid-July . On July 28 those two cityfied US Marshalls—-armed to the hilt—went up intot he woods to the crime scene and reported back to Judge Nancy they could not guarantee her safety . All they saw were horse tracks and horse muffins and a whole lotta human footprints…but ABSOLUTELY no bear sign whatsoever.

          So the question becomes: Why did those Marshalls tell the Jidge they couldn’t protect her if they saw no bears or bear sign or any threatening stuff at all on their July 28 looksee ?

          The Judge got some very bad advice. But from whom ? and Why is that ?

          ( I’ve said too much.)

          1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
            Ralph Maughan

            Glad you said it, Cody!!

          2. WM Avatar

            I had speculated another scenario. In mine the marshalls reported back neutral, and the judge just said in closed door conversation, “Do you really think I NEED go? Surely you don’t want to go back up there again, and get more horse poop on those city shoes of yours (I don’t really want to go, but I’m trying to think of a graceful way out, just in case I have political aspirations. “Wink”, “Wink”)?

  19. Wm Bova Avatar
    Wm Bova

    Cody to lay that all at the feet of the biologists is supposition. We don’t know if this bear was involved in a fight with another bear 24 hrs prior to being darted or what caused it to go off a cliff on an adrenaline dump. I’m sure many bears over the years have been darted and go peaceably on their way even when faced with the possibility of a human encounter. Could the darting and handling have contributed to the adverse reaction? Sure, the bear could have had it up to it’s ears and tore into anything that crossed it’s path. Behavior is a difficult thing to predict in any species. People ask me how I’m doing, and my answer is it depends what time of the day it is. Catch me at the wrong moment after someone has pissed in my coffee and it’s hard to believe I’m an easy going person.

    You seem to insinuate there is an ulterior motive to the US Marshall’s recommendations. I don’t even think they needed to see the site to give that recommendation. You can’t go to a trailhead in any Nat’l Park inhabited by GB’s and not find a Warning and Disclaimer. It’s up to her and anyone else that wants to see the site to just override the rec and do it with proper precautions.


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.

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Ralph Maughan