A Montana man who was reported missing after hiking with a friend earlier this week was killed by a grizzly bear north of Yellowstone National Park, officials announced Friday.
Park County (Montana) Sheriff Brad Bichler said searchers had found Craig Clouatre, 40, early Friday afternoon.
“It appears he had an encounter with a grizzly and unfortunately did not survive,” Bichler said. “We will continue to work through the afternoon to bring Craig home. Please keep his family and all those involved in your thoughts and prayers.”
Clouatre and a friend on Wednesday morning went to the Six Mile Area of the Absaroka Mountains to hunt for antler sheds.
Sheriff Bichler said the two split up that morning and Clouatre was not heard from again.
“When the other man returned to their vehicle and his friend wasn’t there, he called us and we began searching on Wednesday night,” the sheriff told the Livingston Enterprise.
An extensive search was called with helicopters, horse teams, and ground teams all being used.
“After flying thermal imaging late into the night, the search for Craig continues this morning,” Bichler had announced early on Friday.
Friends of Clouatre expressed their sympathies on the Park County Sheriff’s Facebook page.
“Craig was an awesome man,” wrote Paula Hill Laubach. “It was an honor to have called him a friend. Thoughts are prayers are with his family.”
Tragedy struck the Clouatre’s family two years ago when their house burned down. Anne Tanner, a friend of the victim, told the Associated Press that the family had just recently recovered from the fire.
“He was finally just getting their house together,” Tanner said. “It just makes me angry that something like this could happen to such a good person…Of all the men I know, I can’t believe he would die in the wilderness. He was so strong and he was so smart.”
Clouatre was married to his wife Jamie and they had four children.