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Glacier National Park Staff Reunites Little Girl With Teddy Bear After One Year

in News/Good news

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Glacier National Park staff in Montana helped reunite a little girl with her beloved teddy bear almost exactly one year after she lost it in the park.

Naomi, a little girl from Ethiopia, lost her teddy bear on the Hidden Lake Trail in the park on Oct. 9, 2020. She received the bear as a gift from her new parents while still in an orphanage in Ethiopia.

According to her parents, Teddy “kept her company until she could come home for good.” Teddy traveled with her around the world, and they had many adventures together.

As park rangers were conducting post season clean-up last year, they discovered a small, sopping wet teddy bear buried in the snow.

Normally, because the bear was in such bad shape, they would have thrown it away, but something just didn’t sit right with Ranger Tom Mazzarisi.

“Bears are my passion. I just didn’t have the heart to throw it away,” he said. “There was something special about this teddy bear, so I adopted him and named him Ceasar.”

Mazzarisi monitors bear activity in the Hudson Bay District and made Ceasar the mascot for his patrol car. Ceasar sat proudly, front and center on the dashboard and kept a sharp eye out for bears and other wild animals.

Together, they traveled through rugged mountainous terrain and Ceasar helped Mazzarisi keep the public and wildlife safe all year long.

This year, a family friend of Naomi’s returned to the park. By random chance, they noticed Ceasar sitting in a patrol vehicle at a park trailhead and was certain this was Teddy.

They left a note and contacted staff.

Rangers assisted in retrieving Teddy, insisting that he was going home to his little girl.

One ranger waited by the vehicle until the other returned from the backcountry, one tried to track the keys down, and another delivered the bear to the family friend personally from Logan Pass to Apgar.

On Thursday night, Teddy made his way into Naomi’s arms after a year of being separated.

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Montana Wildlife Officials Kill Grizzly Suspected of Fatally Attacking Woman

in News/Grizzly Bear Attacks

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Montana wildlife officials shot and killed a grizzly bear early Friday morning that was believed to have dragged a woman from her tent in Montana earlier this week and killed her.

The bear was killed less than two miles from Ovando, a Montana town of fewer than 100 people and the place the woman was killed Tuesday morning.

“Last night, the Powell County Sheriff’s Office took a report from a resident who came home and found her door ripped off and large claw marks were present,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook Friday. “A short time later a male grizzly bear was killed in the area.”

The bear was killed after being caught raiding a chicken coop in an attack similar to one that occurred the night the woman was killed.

Given the proximity to Tuesday’s attack and the evidence found at the scene, Montana Fish, Wildlife &Parks officials believe the bear killed was the same one that attacked the woman, who was staying in a tent outside of an Ovando museum the night she was killed. However, offiicials said confirming DNA analysis will take a few days.

“Based on the size of the bear, the color of the bear and the nature of the chicken coop raids, we’re confident we’ve got the offending bear,” FWP spokesman Greg Lemon told CBS on Friday morning.

“We hope to make positive identification within the next couple of days,” Powell County officials said. “Early indications are that this is likely the bear that was involved in Tuesday’s attack.”

On the night the camper was killed, a chicken coop in the Ovando area was raided by the bear. Another coop was raided by a bear on Wednesday night, about 48 hours after the attack in Ovando. FWP specialists set a trap at a third coop on Thursday and USDA Wildlife Services specialists were monitoring the trap Thursday night when the bear approached and was shot.

Wildlife Services specialists were assisting at the request of FWP officials, anticipating the bear would return to the coop. They used night vision technology to aid in shooting the bear.

DNA samples from the bear will be compared to samples taken from the scene of the fatal attack Tuesday to confirm it was the responsible bear.

In the meantime, FWP staff will remain vigilant and keep at least one trap set near the first chicken coop that was raided on the outskirts of Ovando.

According to the Powell County, Montana, Sheriff’s Office, three campers were spending the night in their tents outside of an Ovando museum Tuesday.

At approximately 3 a.m., a 400-pound male grizzly awakened the campers, but ran away.

The campers removed food from their tents and secured it in an area designated for food storage before going back to bed. While Lemon said this could have been a reason for the bear being interested in the victim’s tent, it was still unusual for it to be so aggressive.

A security camera at a business a block away captured footage of the bear at 3:15 a.m.

Fifteen minutes later, two people in a tent were awakened by screams as the grizzly returned and pulled the victim out of her tent.

The campers sprayed the grizzly with bear spray, causing it to retreat. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to CBS, the victim was a 65-year-old Chico, California, resident named Leah Davis Lokan.

According to CBS, Lokan was an experienced outdoorswoman and cyclist who was on a mountain biking trip. She and her party were camped by Ovando’s post office early Tuesday when she was attacked.

Friends described Lokan as a free spirit, competitive and adventuresome who was aware of the dangers she faced on the trip.

Lemon told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that one of the wildlife specialists’ biggest concerns about the bear was its lack of fear of people and populated areas, not a common trait in wild animals.

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Rescue Teams Expand Search For Missing Montana Hiker

in Missing people/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming and Montana search and rescue teams have expanded their search areas in their attempts to find hiker Tatum Morrell, who disappeared after going hiking in the Beartooth Mountains last week.

According to Red Lodge, Montana, Fire Rescue, search teams still haven’t found sign of the missing 23-year-old, but rescuers have expanded the search area to include areas adjacent to original 15 square-mile area. This expansion was done in case Morrell became disoriented or had to retreat from the high altitude routes due to bad weather.

Morrell planned to hike five peaks in the mountains last week. She camped at Shadow Lake in Montana on July 1 and contacted her mother via a satellite communicator that evening.

A National Guard helicopter was used Thursday night to take high-resolution images of the area for more detailed analysis and to help direct ground searchers.

Officials have determined that although Morrell wasn’t due to be back from her hiking trip until July 5, she left her camp on July 2 to summit a 12,000-foot peak and never returned.

Currently, Montana’s Red Lodge Fire Rescue, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin County and Big Horn County search and rescue and rescue teams are looking for the young woman, assisted by the Park County, Wyoming, search and rescue team, the U.S. Forest Service, three dog teams and three helicopters.

Morrell is an engineering graduate student at Montana State University-Bozeman and is originally from Idaho. This was her first trip to the Beartooths, according to Red Lodge Fire Rescue officials.

She is an experienced hiker who recently completed a similar trip in Gallatin County, climbing five peaks in five days.

Anyone with information on Morrell’s disappearance can call 406-446-1234, the Carbon County, Montana Sheriff’s Office.

Morrell is not the only hiker to be reported missing in the region recently. Last month, an Irish man disappeared while hiking in Grand Teton National Park.

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Black Bear Killed After Breaking Into Montana Home

in News/Bears

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A young female black bear was killed last week after it broke into a Montana home looking for food, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.

Despite the Red Lodge homeowners’ efforts to bear-proof their property, the bear was able to pry open a window and enter the house on June 23. No one was at home when the bear let itself in.

When the homeowners returned, they called Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials, who trapped and euthanized the bear.

When bears enter homes, FWP will kill them if possible, as this type of bear behavior is dangerous to humans and is unnatural for bears.

Red Lodge-area residents have reported seeing other bears around town and in adjacent subdivisions and ranches. FWP bear specialists expect the lack of spring moisture could affect berry crops, leading both black and grizzly bears to seek out easy food sources near homes.

If those bears find nothing to eat around homes and businesses, they will move elsewhere.

The incident serves as a reminder to people who live in bear country to take every opportunity to bear-proof their properties, which includes putting all trash in bear-proof containers and keeping all property free of anything that can attract bears who are looking for food, the officials said.

Residents can avoid bear conflicts by storing all garbage cans in a locked building until immediately before garbage trucks arrive, storing barbecue grills, pet food, horse pellets and livestock feed in a locked building.

Home and business owners can remove all bird feeders and clean up apples, berries and other potential food sources.

Bear-proofing also includes thoroughly cleaning decks and patios around barbecue areas to remove odors from previous cooking.

The incident occurred not long after Grand Teton National Park officials moved a grizzly bear to a new spot in the park because it received food from humans over a two-day period.

Park spokewoman Denise Germann told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the decision was made to relocate the bear to try and break the cycle it had developed of approaching humans in hopes of some kind of food reward.

She added that it was irresponsible for people to feed grizzlies, either directly or indirectly.

“When people take these actions, there are consequences, many of which are for the bear, who can either be relocated or removed,” Germann said. “It’s an awesome opportunity to come to the park and see a bear in the wild, but we also have to be good stewards of the land, which includes not feeding wildlife.”

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Man Dies In Boating Accident At Glacier National Park

in News/Recreation

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Montana man died in a boating accident at Glacier National Park over the weekend.

According to the National Park Service, Ronald Newton, 62, died after falling into the water when his pontoon boat flipped Saturday.

A Park Service news release said Glacier rangers responded to a report of a medical emergency near Glacier Run on the North Fork of the Flathead River.

After traveling about 2 miles upriver to Fool Hen Rapids, rangers found air ambulance staff working to revive Newton, a resident of Columbia Falls, Montana.

According to witnesses, Newton was part of a group floating the river Saturday. When two pontoon boats tied together became stuck on a rock, Newton tried to free them from his own boat. When his pontoon boat flipped, he was submerged in the water.

A friend recovered Newton from the water and several bystanders initiated CPR on a nearby gravel bar. Reports indicate he wasn’t wearing a personal flotation device or helmet at the time of the accident.

Bystanders and medics performed CPR for more than one hour, but Newton died at the scene.

His cause of death is still undetermined.

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Wyoming AMBER Alert Canceled Due To Baby Boy Being Found Safe

in News/Crime

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming AMBER Alert was canceled after the missing child, a six-month-old boy, was found safe on Tuesday morning.

The Montana Department of Justice announced Tuesday that Lucas Warner was found safe after being kidnapped by his biological father over the weekend.

Not much information was provided, other than that the Lincoln County, Montana, Sheriff’s Office found the baby Tuesday morning.

According to MTN News, law enforcement officers believed the abduction was planned by Warner’s non-custodial father, Andrew Warner, and babysitter Hayli Emerson.

An AMBER Alert was sent out late Saturday evening across multiple states, including Wyoming. The alert said Andrew Warner was reportedly bipolar and off his medication, and that Lucas was believed to be in danger as a court determined that Andrew Warner was an unfit parent.

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