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Yellowstone grizzly bear victim was Torrance, CA resident

The man killed by a female grizzly bear protecting her cubs has been identified by officials at Yellowstone National Park as 57-year-old Brian Matayoshi of Torrance, California. Officials called the extremely rare defensive attack a “1 in 3 million” occurrence. Matayoshi’s death was the first time in 25 years that a park visitor has been killed by a bear.

According to Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, Matayoshi and his wife, Marylyn, were hiking on the Wapiti Lake trail at about 11 AM when they saw a female grizzly and two cubs. The California couple backed away and then retreated along the path in the direction from which they had come. When they looked back at the bears, the adult grizzly female was already charging them. Marylyn Matayoshi took shelter behind a fallen tree alongside the trail. The female grizzly reached Brian Matayoshi first and fatally bit and clawed him. Then the bear approached Marylyn Matayoshi, who was playing dead, lifted her by the backpack she was wearing and dropped her, uninjured!

The bear left the area, and Marylyn Matayoshi rushed to check her husband’s condition, then tried to call 911 on her cellphone, but had no reception. She called for help and was heard by a group of six hikers who were able to call authorities. Officials arrived in 15-20 minutes.

A Park Service wildlife biologist who specializes in bears, Kerry Gunther, said that the bear apparently perceived a threat to her cubs and attacked to defend them. There was no evidence of a predatory attack. As the result of the rarity of the attack, a Board of Inquiry will be held by Wenk. Park officials plan to take no action against the bear, but are attempting to locate it.

It was the fourth visit by the Matayoshi couple to Yellowstone, and they had never before encountered a bear. The Matayoshis were not carrying bear pepper spray, which has been shown to be highly effective in stopping aggressive behavior in bears.

We extend our sympathies to Marylyn Matayoshi and Brian Matayoshi’s family and friends.

-Bill at

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