According to Parks Canada, a grizzly bear believed to have murdered a couple and their dog in a remote area of Banff National Park also charged a crew deployed to rescue them. The federal agency stated in a statement that bear spray was discovered west of Ya Ha Tinda Ranch by an attack response team whose lives were also in danger when they killed an older female grizzly early Saturday morning at a remote campsite near the Red Deer River.
“When Parks Canada staff arrived at the scene, the bear was spotted, displayed aggressive behaviour, and proceeded to charge towards the response team,” said Parks Canada.
“This is why there was no other choice but to shoot and kill the bear on-site.”
At 8 p.m. Friday, authorities got a satellite signal from the location indicating a bear attack, but a response team was unable to visit it by helicopter owing to severe weather. Rescuers arrived at the location at 5 a.m. the next morning to find the couple, described by relatives and friends as seasoned, safety-conscious hikers, dead, along with their dog.
“Two cans of bear spray were found at the scene and their food had been hung appropriately,” said the agency.
“At the time of the incident, there was no active bear warning or area closure in place; the individuals were in a permitted area.”
“Parks Canada does not believe another bear was involved at this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, an area closure has been put in place until further notice,” said the statement.
“We will never know the full details of what led to the attack and will not speculate.”
According to Clayton Lamb, a wildlife biologist at the University of British Columbia, based on what is known about the occurrence, it could have been a predatory bear attack.
“My gut feeling is they had to kill it, the bear had stayed around — it was dark and was probably close enough (to Parks Canada staff),” said Lamb
According to wildlife experts, bear encounters are more dangerous this time of year as the animals fill up for winter, and a weak berry crop has made the activity more difficult for bruins.
There have been recent fatal grizzly bear assaults in the foothills near where the most recent deaths happened.
A man and a woman were killed in separate events in the Waiparous and Water Valley areas in May 2021.
It was discovered that two grizzly sows, both with cubs, were involved in the attacks.
How many Bear attacks are reported in Canada?
According to Parks Canada data, there were 140 documented incidents between 1982 and 2018, with 17 fatalities. Approximately 60% of those occurrences included grizzly bears, with the remaining 40% involving black bears.
Data from the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) shows that 109 black and grizzly bear-related human injuries and 20 fatalities were reported in Canada between 1960 and 2014.
In Canada, a total of 26 bear assaults were reported in 2022. Unfortunately, there were fatalities in four of these cases. These figures serve as a harsh reminder of the risks that bears can pose to people and emphasize the significance of exercising caution when travelling through bear habitat.
With nine documented fatalities, British Columbia had the most. Alberta was closely behind with eight deaths from black or grizzly bears during this time.
As of last deadly bear attack, having very efficient bear spray, GPS and a strong dog is not a guarantee that a bear will stop attacking or loose interest. Unfortunately as it appears, the only way to repel a charging Grizzly bear from injuring a person or worse is to kill it first as we can read from rescuer statements.