Woman killed in grizzly bear attack near West Yellowstone

By: - July 24, 2023 12:06 pm

Photo of a grizzly bear (Photo by Gregory Smith | Wikimedia Commons | CC-BY-SA 2.0)

The Custer Gallatin National Forest closed the Buttermilk area west of West Yellowstone during the weekend after a woman hiking alone there was killed by what wildlife officials believe was an adult grizzly bear.

The woman was found dead around 8 a.m., Saturday on the Buttermilk Trail, approximately eight miles west of West Yellowstone, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Wildlife officials said she was alone when the encounter happened and did not find any bear spray or firearms at the scene, FWP said.

FWP game wardens and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers, which are investigating the incident, said the woman had wounds consistent with a bear attack and found tracks of an adult grizzly and at least one cub near the site.

The area of the Custer Gallatin National Forest that was closed Saturday after a deadly grizzly bear attack on the Buttermilk Trail.
The area of the Custer Gallatin National Forest that was closed Saturday after a deadly grizzly bear attack on the Buttermilk Trail. (Map via USFS)

The Custer Gallatin National Forest put an emergency closure of the area in place on Saturday – along the Continental Divide Trail from the trailhead near Targhee Pass to the confluence with Cream Creek Road from west to east and north to the forest boundary near Highway 20.

FWP said bear specialists and game wardens started looking for the bears because of the close proximity to homes, campgrounds and a trail system.

The department said Monday morning staff used a helicopter as well as ground search teams but had not found any bears so far.

FWP said in a statement it believed the woman was hiking alone at the time of the attack, which is still under investigation.

The Gallatin County coroner did not return an email seeking identification of the woman on Monday, but Cowboy State Daily first reported she is Amie Adamson, 47, of Derby, Kansas, according to her family.

The news outlet reported that Adamson’s mother posted on Facebook and told Good Morning America her daughter was working at Yellowstone National Park for the summer had been on a hike when she was attacked.

FWP also urged people to be prepared to encounter bears in bear country, which they said is becoming more widespread in Montana.

The department urged people to carry bear spray, travel in groups and make noise, stay away from animal carcasses, practice safe food storage, and to never feed bears in bear country – which is illegal in Montana.

A woman was killed by a bear in Ovando in 2021, and a hunter was attacked by a grizzly last October near Chouteau but survived, according to FWP.

The state is also in the process of finalizing a grizzly bear management plan in the event that USFWS decides to move forward with delisting grizzlies from the Endangered Species Act in several areas of Montana.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the identification of the woman who was killed, as reported by Cowboy State Daily.

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Blair Miller
Blair Miller

Blair Miller is a reporter based in Helena who primarily covers government, climate and courts. He's been a journalist for more than 12 years, previously based in Denver, Albuquerque and mid-Missouri.