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BUTTE — Searchers on Friday recovered the body of a man on the East Ridge who may have died while hiking.

Hikers reported finding the body late Thursday after returning from a hike to the Our Lady of the Rockies statue.

Sheriff Ed Lester said the body has been sent to the Montana Crime Lab in Missoula to determine cause of death, but he doesn’t expect foul play.

The victim was described as a Butte man in his mid-50s. The sheriff didn’t release the victim’s name Friday evening pending notification of relatives. No vehicle was found that could have been the victim’s, police said.

Judging by decomposition, Lester suspects the man may have been dead for five days or even longer. Police haven’t received any reports of the victim being missing.

The three adult hikers came to the police department about 10 p.m. Thursday to report finding a body while hiking down the East Ridge. Because it was so late, the sheriff decided to search for the body Friday morning.

Led by the hikers, it took about 90 minutes to get to the body.

“It was extremely difficult terrain,” Lester said.

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The sheriff said the body appeared to be dressed in hiking-style clothing. The body was found in treacherous terrain, and the victim may have taken a fall, according to Lester.

Investigators didn’t find a cellphone on the victim. Lester suspects the victim’s relatives don’t live in the Butte area.

Members of the 15-90 Search and Rescue helped retrieve the body.

Lester praised the rescue team for its efforts in getting the body out of the difficult terrain.

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