The wife and daughter of a Park Ridge man fatally mauled by a grizzly bear in Wyoming voiced anger today at a research team that snared and collared the bear involved in last week’s attack.
Countering authorities’ account of the mauling, the family of Erwin Evert says he knew little about what the research team was doing and did not go looking for the team’s trap site during the hike that ended with his death.
“He just knew they were doing some sort of research. He had no idea they were going to be baiting, trapping and collaring bears in our backyard,” said his daughter, Mara Evert Domingue of Louisiana.
“If he had known that, he never would have walked up that trail.”
The danger should have been more clearly marked, his family said.
For weeks before the attack, a yellow ribbon warned about a dangerous bear along the trail Evert walked, his family said. But there were no other warning signs, and Evert and his neighbors were never told specifically about the activities of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, a group of state and federal agencies that monitor the local bears, his family said.
Evert did not go past the warning ribbon before the day of the attack, said his widow, Yolanda Evert. She said she isn’t sure where her husband encountered the bear, but she said she doesn’t think he would have disregarded the warning and walked past the tape.
“He was curious about it, but he wouldn’t go beyond that. He stayed on the trail,” she said.
Authorities have said the research team collared a 430-pound male bear and left the area near Yellowstone National Park about two miles from Evert’s cabin around 1 p.m. June 17. Evert went for a walk just before 1 p.m. and was found dead hours later. A sharpshooter later killed the bear from a helicopter.
Scott Steward, the sheriff of Park County, Wyo., said Evert questioned the bear research team and was “very inquisitive about their work.” Evert told a friend he planned to look for the trap site, Steward said.
“We’re not dealing with a case where someone didn’t know (the trap site) was there,” the sheriff said Wednesday. “The victim definitely knew it was there.”