No charges in grizzly killing
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
March 8, 2013
Federal investigators have elected to file no charges against the hunting party that gunned down a charging grizzly bear while elk hunting Thanksgiving Day in Grand Teton National Park.
Grand Teton officials released a “case incident record” Thursday that concluded the shooting was in self-defense.
Investigators described the encounter as “a very fast-moving and dynamic event where the individuals had only seconds to react.”
Less than 10 seconds elapsed between the time the party of three spotted the bruin — a 534-pound, 18- to 20-year-old male — and five shots were fired, the report said.
The incident, the first such killing of a grizzly since Grand Teton’s “elk reduction program” started in 1950, took place in heavy timber near Schwabacher Landing at about 7:30 a.m.
A partially devoured cow elk was discovered 42 feet from where the shooting took place, the report said. Vegetation near the carcass was trampled down, investigators found, suggesting the bear had been bedding down near the food source.
The report included statements from all three members of the party, whose names were blacked out.
The Jackson Hole News&Guide independently identified the hunting party as David Trembly , a Dubois resident, and his two sons. The Trembly family did not return phone calls for this story.
Grizzly bears are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act and killing the bruins — other than in self-defense or in a car accident, for example — is a felony.
One member of the party deployed bear spray, investigators found, although the report noted the canister expired nine years prior to the incident.
Investigators at the time observed orange remnants, a sign of the spray, on nearby trees and on the bear’s face. They also could smell it in the air.
“This investigation cannot reasonably prove that the bear came in contact with the spray and enough time elapsed for it to produce the desired effects prior to being shot,” the report’s conclusion said.
The same party member who released the spray told investigators he yelled out, “Go bear! No bear!” as soon as he saw the grizzly. The bear responded by “moving around some trees and turning towards them very quickly.”
Five shots were fired almost simultaneously, the report said, with two being rifled off while the bear was charging at a distance of about 15 feet. Three subsequent shots were fired when the bear was on the ground, including two into the bear’s head.
Once the bear stopped moving, the report said, the Trembly family dropped their packs and bear spray in place. There was no cellphone reception, so they hiked out and phoned a family member, who in turn notified park officials.
Photos included in the report show that the Trembly family then returned to the scene with park and Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials, walking them through the encounter.