Yellowstone investigating death of hiker found near Lake area

Authorities in Yellowstone National Park have closed an area to public access while they work to determine what caused the death of a hiker found by a ranger at around noon today.

A Montana man who worked in the park had been reported missing by co-workers Thursday morning. Park officials have not released the man’s name or additional details about the incident, pending notification of family members.

The man had been hiking in the vicinity of the Elephant Back Loop Trail in the Lake Village area, near the center of the park.

That trail and the immediate area are closed to hikers while the investigation continues.

A conclusive cause of death has yet to be determined, said Yellowstone spokeswoman Julena Campbell.

She said rangers investigating the incident had found signs of grizzly bear activity in the area, including day beds, bear scat and fur.

Fatal bear attacks are uncommon among the 3.5 million annual visitors who roam across Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres. But park officials say they are continually working to educate the public about the dangers posed by grizzlies and other wildlife.

Two people were killed in separate bear attacks in Yellowstone in 2012, and four people have been injured by bison so far this year.

Park visitation for 2015 is on a record pace, up 20 percent over last year.

Officials remind hikers to stay on designated trails, leave an itinerary with others, hike in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.

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