Bloody grizzly bear found dead near Yellowstone, sparking investigation: ‘We are the villains in this story’
A grizzly bear was found dead near Yellowstone National Park this week and wildlife officials are investigating if the mammal was shot to death.
The dead bear was found less than 30 yards off the roadside Tuesday in Cody, a city 14 miles outside the national park along the North Fork.
Heartbreaking photos of the bloodied bear were captured by wildlife photographer Amy Gerber.
“We are the villains in this story,” Gerber said on Facebook.
“I will never understand the mindset of someone who, practically from the road, would pull out a gun and shoot a wild grizzly bear. For no apparent reason. Mistaken identity? I think not. This bear was huge….would be very difficult to mistake for a black bear. Self-defense? Again, I say no.”
Gerber had seen the 500-pound mammal perusing the Shoshone River multiple times in the weeks since spring weather hit the area.
She said the bear died less than a mile from where she had last seen him just a week earlier.
There was initial speculation that the bear was hit by a car, but sources told Gerber — who witnessed US Fish and Wildlife Service officials searching the area for “evidence” — that the grizzly was fatally shot.
The USFWS confirmed to The Post it is probing the apparent murder, but said it could not provide any details “due to the nature of ongoing investigations.”
Grizzlies are classified as an endangered species and are federally protected.
The maximum penalty for killing a grizzly is a $50,000 fine and up to a year in jail unless one can prove they were acting in self-defense.
The alleged killing comes just three months after the Biden administration took steps to end federal protections for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, which would open the door to future hunting in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
Grizzly hunting was blocked in 2018 in Wyoming as populations started to dwindle, but officials argued the bears have made a substantial return and no longer need federal protections.