A dad of four from Livingston, Mont., never met back up with a friend after they got separated during a hike in Paradise Valley Wednesday, and now, a sad development. Local authorities say it appears 40-year-old Craig Clouatre was fatally mauled by a grizzly bear in the Six Mile Creek area, just outside Yellowstone National Park, per the Livingston Enterprise. "It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this update," Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler wrote on Facebook Friday afternoon. "After an extensive search this morning we have located Craig. It appears he had an encounter with a grizzly and unfortunately did not survive."
Bichler tells the Enterprise that Clouatre and a pal had split up Wednesday while on their hike, during which they were possibly looking for shed antlers. The friend alerted authorities when Clouatre didn't show up back at the parking lot. "We don't typically put people into the mountains in the dark on an initial look, so we started first thing Thursday morning, and went through the day Thursday," Bichler tells CNN. The search, which briefly halted Thursday night before picking back up again Friday, included air crews with a thermal imaging camera, as well as a ground team that including individuals on horseback.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks assisted with the search, as did the US Forest Service. Clouatre's body was found Friday. Bichler noted that while bears have gone on the attack in the area previously, such attacks aren't usually deadly. The Billings Gazette notes this is the first grizzly bear mauling of 2022. There were two fatal ones in the state last year. "Please keep his family and all those involved in your thoughts and prayers," Bichler said of Clouatre in his statement. (Read more mauling stories.)