Employer of bear mauling victim could face $15K in fines

Employer of bear mauling victim could face $15K in fines


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JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — An Idaho company is facing more than $15,000 in fines after one of its employees was killed in a bear mauling last year while he was conducting research alone and without bear spray or other personal defense tools in a wilderness area known to have grizzly bears.

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration is treating the death of Adam Stewart, 31, of Virgin, Utah, as a workplace fatality and has proposed fining ecological consulting firm Nature's Capitol.

Wyoming OSHA spokeswoman Hayley McKee told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://bit.ly/1PnE3a8) that the citations are still proposals and are subject to negotiations. The company could be given $15,120 in fines.

"The employer has due process, so they can contest the citations and basically go through a process with OSHA," McKee said Thursday. "There are some cases where fines could be reduced."

Nature's Capitol has not yet said if it plans to fight the fines, McKee said. The company, she said, held an "informal conference" with Wyoming OSHA on Wednesday but didn't indicate the path it will take going forward.

Nature's Capitol was given 15 business days after the meeting to decide how it will proceed, McKee said.

A message left with Nature's Capitol by The Associated Press on Friday was not immediately returned. The company is based in Boise, Idaho.

The OSHA investigation cited Nature's Capitol for not adequately protecting employees from contact with bears, failing to assess the workplace for hazards, not providing training in the use of "personal protective equipment" and failing to train Stewart in first aid or how to access first aid in the absence of a nearby hospital.

"The hazard contributed to the death of an employee due to not implementing the industry-recognized practices to avoid bear contact," the citation papers said.

Stewart was killed Sept. 4, 2014, while doing vegetation survey work for Nature's Capital, which was contracted by the U.S. Forest Service.

Investigators determined that four grizzly and black bears were in the area where Stewart's body was found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest's Teton Wilderness, a protected grizzly bear habitat.

They could not determine what kind of bear killed him because of the condition of his body.

Stewart did not carry bear-deterrent spray, a firearm or a noise-maker and did not submit an itinerary or have a required check-in procedure, the OSHA investigation found.


Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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