Speed not a factor in Grand Teton vehicle wreck that killed grizzly bear

Grizzly bears can often be found along roads in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. (Ruffin Prevost/Yellowstone Gate )

Grizzly bears can often be found along roads in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. (Ruffin Prevost/Yellowstone Gate )

By Ruffin Prevost

Authorities have released new details from their investigation into an incident yesterday that left a driver in Grand Teton National Park injured and a young male grizzly bear dead, finding that excessive speed was not a factor.

Officers with the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the National Park Service have finished a preliminary investigation that has determined that a vehicle traveling south on Highway 26/89/191 in Grand Teton National Park swerved slightly to avoid a bear that was trying to cross the highway.

That unexpected maneuver caused the northbound vehicle to also swerve, over-correct, and veer off into the sagebrush on the west side of the highway. A 29-year-old Pennsylvania man, whose name has not been disclosed, was driving the northbound car, and sustained minor injuries in the wreck.

After it left the highway, the man’s vehicle collided with the grizzly bear, according to information released by the Grand Teton National Park public affairs office. The vehicle came to rest about 80 feet off the road.

Findings from investigators’ reconstruction of the accident scene suggest that neither vehicle was speeding at the time of the incident. The daytime speed limit at the incident site is 55 mph.

Hair and tissue samples from the bear will be analyzed to determine its lineage, including whether it is related to tagged or well-known bears in the park.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team conducts research on grizzly bears throughout the 22-million-acre GYE as part of a long-term effort to monitor the population. The hair sample will be matched with data collected by this interdisciplinary group of scientists and biologists.

The team, which includes wildlife biologists and researchers from multiple state and federal agencies, has collected data on grizzlies through biological samples and radio-collar tracking since 1973.

Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].

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