BILLINGS, Mont. (AP)

A Montana man who went missing during a hike earlier this week was killed in an alleged encounter with a grizzly bear north of Yellowstone National Park, authorities said Friday.

The victim was identified as 40-year-old Craig Cloater of Livingston. No details on where he was found and why the bear was considered guilty of his death were reported.

Search teams on the ground and in helicopters searched for Cloatre after he went on a hike Wednesday morning with a friend, possibly to hunt for horns, and according to the sheriff, it was reported that on that day he was overdue. The search began that night in the Six Mile Creek area of ​​the Absaroka Mountains, located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Livingston, Montana.

“They broke up sometime later in the morning,” Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler told Livingston Enterprise. “When another man returned to their car and his friend was gone, he called us and we started searching.”

Authorities worked Friday to return Cloatre’s body to his family, Bihler said in a message on social media.

Cloatre’s father told the Associated Press that the victim grew up in Massachusetts and moved more than two decades ago to Montana, where Cloatre met his future wife Jamie and decided to build a house.

“It was a joy to have him as a son,” David Cloatre said. “He was a good man, a good, hard-working family man.”

The mountains in the area where Craig Cloatre died rise steeply above the Yellowstone River as it passes through Paradise Valley. Dense forests at higher altitudes are home to bears and other wildlife, although dangerous encounters with humans are relatively rare.

The cloister often visited these mountains and others around the park, hiking in the summer and climbing the ice in the winter when he was not home with his wife and four young children, said Anne Tanner, a friend of the victim.

Tanner said she had known Cloatre for about ten years because he worked for commercial food companies and delivered to their restaurant Emigrant Outpost. The restaurant held a benefit for the Cloatre family after their home burned down two years ago. Tanner said they had only recently recovered from the fire.

“He was finally just assembling their house,” she said. “I am just angry that something like this could happen to such a good man … Of all the men I know, I can’t believe he will die in the desert. He was so strong and so smart. “

State wildlife officials responded to the scene, but Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Greg Lehmann said he had no further information.

Since 2010, grizzlies in the Yellowstone region have killed at least eight people.

Among them was a backcountry guide killed last year by a bear on the western border of Yellowstone. Leader Charles “Carl” Mock was killed in April after he was injured by a male gnawing 181 pounds while fishing alone in a favorite spot on the Madison River in Montana, where it spills out of the park.

Grizzlies are protected by federal law outside of Alaska. Elected officials in the Yellowstone region are seeking to lift security and allow grizzly hunting.

The Yellowstone region, which covers parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, is home to more than 700 bears. Attacks on fatal people are rare, but have increased in recent decades as the grizzly bear population has grown and more people have moved to rural areas near the bear.

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