WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana –
A woman was found dead in Montana on Saturday after coming into contact with a grizzly bear on a trail west of Yellowstone National Park.
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a statement on Sunday that the woman was found deceased on a trail near West Yellowstone, a Montana town nestled in the Custer Gallatin National Forest just west of Yellowstone National Park.
They said the woman was found deceased “following an apparent bear encounter” based on what investigators determined were grizzly bear tracks at the scene. The department said the investigation into the grizzly attack was ongoing.
Rangers issued an emergency closure of the area where the woman was found, which is popular with hikers.
Though the department’s statement said the death appeared to have followed the woman’s interaction with the bear, it did not confirm her cause of death.
The attack comes amid a rise in Montana’s grizzly bear population and an increase in sightings.
The department put out a news release last week warning visitors that staff had confirmed grizzly bear sightings throughout the state, “particularly in areas between the Northern Continental Divide and the Great Yellowstone ecosystems.”
They implored those camping and visiting parks to carry bear spray, store their food while outside and tend to their garbage.