Official: Grizzly Bear Offspring May Not Be Killed but Mother Bear in Fatal Attack to Be Put Down

Official says young bears could be sent to a zoo but their mother will die.

ByABC News via logo
July 29, 2010, 8:18 AM

July 30, 2010 — -- The mother grizzly bear that mauled three people in Montana this week will be put to death, but an official involved in the decision-making process says her three young offspring may not need to be euthanized.

The cubs could spend the rest of their lives in a zoo, Chris Servheen, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, said this morning on "Good Morning America."

Some officials have expressed fears that the cubs would have to be put down because they learned predatory behavior from watching their mother. A final decision remains to be made.

Servheen, who is responsible for coordinating all research and management on grizzly bears in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington State, said the mother bear had to be killed because her behavior revealed predation.

Bears display natural aggression when they're protecting their young or a food source, or when they're surprised. The aggression that's displayed is employed as a means of neutralizing the situation so they can get away, he said.

The bear from the Wednesday attack that left one man dead and two others injured had developed a taste for predation upon humans, meaning the bear was expected to enter a campground again "with the intent of killing and eating a person."

That's how authorities were able to trap this grizzly bear, he said.

They used parts of the deceased camper's tent and sleeping bag as bait. The bear "went directly to that trap and went into it," Servheen said.

An autopsy will be performed to determine if there was any "organic problem" that led to the bear's behavior, he added.

Two of the mother bear's young offspring have been trapped. A third is expected to be trapped soon.

"We would never release these bears into the wild again, but they can be released in a zoo," Servheen said.

Two 911 calls were made early Wednesday to alert authorities to the bear attack at the Soda Butte Campground in Montana, located five miles from Yellowstone National Park.

Three people were mauled, and one of them -- Kevin R. Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich. -- was killed. He was attacked in his tent while he slept.