On Wednesday, March 23, Livingston, Montana, resident Craig Clouatre went shed hunting with his friend Hans Friedmann. At some point they separated ways, but Clouatre never made it to their rendezvous spot.
When the Park County Sheriff’s Department received notice that Clouatre hadn’t returned home from the Six Mile Creek area of the Paradise Valley, they sent out the cavalry in search of him. According to the Missoulian, the search began the night of March 24 with thermal imaging devices. The next morning rescuers went out in helicopters, along with ground and horseback teams.
Responders found Clouatre on Friday morning, but it was too late.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this update,” Sheriff Brad Bichler wrote on the Park County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page. “After an extensive search this morning we have located Craig. It appears he had an encounter with a grizzly and unfortunately did not survive. We will continue to work through the afternoon to bring Craig home. Please keep his family and all those involved in your thoughts and prayers.”
Clouatre’s wife, Jamie, told Sheriff Bichler that “Craig loved to be in wild places and was well aware of the risks involved with that.”
Last year, the first fatal grizzly attack in the Lower 48 didn’t occur until April 20, almost an entire month later in the spring. With bears awakening from their state of torpor, be prepared when recreating in griz country. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable outdoorsmen and women are vulnerable in the spring.
“Of all the men I know, I can’t believe he would die in the wilderness. He was so strong and he was so smart,” Anne Tanner, a friend of Clouatre, told The Independent. “It just makes me angry that something like this could happen to such a good person.”
Craig leaves behind a wife and four children. Kristin Wachob, a family friend, has started a Gofundme page to relieve the Clouatres of financial burdens during this difficult time.
“This family has an intimate familiarity with tragedy as only two years ago they lost almost everything in a house fire,” Wachob wrote. “Anyone who has met Craig had a friend in him. He was a man full of joy and kindness. And more than anything, he loved his family.”
MeatEater sends its deepest condolences to his friends and family.