BILLINGS, Mont. — A grizzly bear that mauled a 57-year-old hiker to death in Yellowstone National Park was only defending its cubs and had not threatened humans before. So park officials Thursday decided to leave it alone to wander the back country.
The mauling — the park's first in 25 years — temporarily closed one of Yellowstone's top attractions on one of the busiest days of the year.
"It was not predatory and so we see no reason to take action against the bear," said Kerry Gunther, bear management biologist for Yellowstone.
Brian and Marilyn Matayoshi, of Torrance, Calif., were hiking in a meadow along a trail a mile and a half from the trailhead when they spotted the bear foraging about 100 yards away.
The couple immediately began walking away, officials said.
The grizzly attacked Brian Matayoshi, then went for his wife. The bear lifted her off the ground by the day pack she was wearing and then dropped her.
Marilyn Matayoshi told rescuers that the couple surprised the sow, its cubs nearby — one of the most dangerous situations for humans encountering grizzlies.