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Montana sheriff says hiker killed, grizzly bear suspected – NBC 6 South Florida

A Montana man who went missing while hiking earlier this week was killed in a suspected encounter with a grizzly bear north of Yellowstone National Park, authorities said Friday.

The victim has been identified as Craig Clouatre, 40, of Livingston. No details were provided on where he was found or why a grizzly bear was responsible for his death.

Ground and helicopter search parties were looking for Clouatre after he went hiking Wednesday morning with a friend, possibly to hunt for woods, and was reported late that day, according to the sheriff. The search began that night and focused on the Six Mile Creek area of ​​the Absaroka Mountains, located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Livingston, Montana.

“They separated later that morning,” Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler told Livingston Enterprise. “When the other man returned to their vehicle and his friend wasn’t there, he called us and we started looking.”

Authorities were working Friday to return Clouatre’s body to his family, Bichler said in a social media post.

Clouatre’s father told The Associated Press that the victim grew up in Massachusetts and moved more than two decades ago to Montana, where Clouatre met his future wife, Jamie, and decided to start a home. .

“It was a joy to have a son all along,” said David Clouatre. “He was a good man, a good and hard-working family man.”

The mountains of the area where Craig Clouatre died rise steeply above the Yellowstone River as it passes through Paradise Valley. Dense forests at higher elevations are home to bears and other wildlife, although dangerous encounters with humans are relatively rare.

Clouatre frequented these mountains and others around the park, hiking in the summer and ice climbing in the winter when he wasn’t home with his wife and their four young children, Anne Tanner said. , a friend of the victim.

Tanner said she has known Clouatre for about a decade because he worked for commercial food companies and delivered to their restaurant, the Emigrant Outpost. The restaurant organized a benefit for the Clouatre family after their house burned down two years ago. Tanner said they only recently recovered from the fire.

“He had just finally gotten their house together,” she said. “It makes me angry that something like this could happen to such a good person… Of all the men I know, I can’t believe he would die in the desert. He was so strong and he was so clever.

State wildlife officials responded to the scene, but Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Greg Lemon said he had no further information.

Since 2010, grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region have killed at least eight people.

Among them was a backcountry guide killed by a bear last year along the western border of Yellowstone. Guide Charles “Carl” Mock was killed in April after being mauled by a 400+ pound (over 181 kilogram) male grizzly bear while fishing alone at a favorite spot on Montana’s Madison River, where he spills out of the park.

Grizzlies are protected by federal law outside of Alaska. Yellowstone-area elected officials are pushing to lift protections and allow grizzly bear hunting.

The Yellowstone region which spans parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming has more than 700 bears. Fatal attacks on humans are rare but have increased in recent decades as the grizzly bear population grew and more people moved to rural areas near bear habitat.