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Erwin Evert, 70, of the 1400 block of Tyrell Avenue in Park Ridge, was found dead on the evening of June 17 in a remote area of the Shoshone National Forest in northwest Wyoming, about 10 miles east of Yellowstone, according to the Park County (Wyo.) Sheriff's office.
A release from the sheriff's office said the body was found by a member of the U.S. Geological Survey's Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in an area where bears were being captured for research. He died of "fatal injuries caused by an encounter with a bear," the release said.
“In 33 years or so of trapping in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem we’ve never had this situation before,” said an understandably somber Chuck Schwartz, team leader of the state-federal bear study team, according to a post on the National Parks Traveler website.
The team had just tagged the grizzly hours before it attacked Evert, the Daily Mail reported.
The researcher was searching the area after Evert's wife, who worked on the bear study team, notified him that her husband was missing. Evert was not armed and was not carrying a pepper spray often used by hikers to deter grizzlies.
On Saturday, DNA tests confirmed that a bear shot and killed by searchers from a helicopter was the animal responsible for mauling Evert, Sheriff Scott Steward said.
According to the Pioneer Press, Evert and his wife divided their time between a home in Park Ridge home and a cabin in Cody, Wyo., about two miles from the site he was killed, the sheriff said.
Evert was a botanist who studied plants in the Yellowstone area and collected thousands of samples which he shared with the Rocky Mountain Herbarium and the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, where he volunteered as a research associate, colleague Andrew Hipp of Morton said.
Evert had spent summers in Wyoming since purchasing a cabin there in 1971 and recently published a 750-page book on his 39 years of plant research, Hipp said. He provided Morton's herbarium collection with more than 20,000 plant specimens and lectured there on his "explorations," Hipp said.
"He was a real asset to the arboretum," he said. "He really enriched our research into plant biodiversity."