On May 25, a 68-year-old woman was killed by a grizzly bear near Water Valley, Alberta. "The individual had gone for a walk on their property and was found deceased on one of their trails," Alberta Fish and Wildlife said in a written statement. The individual’s name was not released.
Despite finding her body partially buried, which initially led officials to believe the attack was predatory, they concluded that the woman’s death was the result of a defensive bear attack.
Wildlife officials captured two female grizzlies five days after the attack. DNA evidence revealed that one mature, post-prime sow with extremely worn teeth was the bear responsible for the woman's death. They euthanized the bear in accordance with Alberta’s bear response guide. AFW released the other female and removed traps from the area.
This incident occurred about 15 miles away from where David Lertzman was fatally attacked three weeks prior. However, DNA confirmed that neither of the bears trapped were involved in the attack on Lertzman.
In addition to these recent fatal attacks, a woman was charged by a grizzly and thrown from her horse on May 22 west of Pincher Creek, Alberta. She unknowingly rode between a female and her yearling cub which caused the sow to charge. Fortunately, neither the woman nor her horse were seriously injured.
Recent research suggests that grizzly numbers in the province are growing. A survey released in March reported that there were 88 grizzlies living in the 4,530 square miles between the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 11. That population has doubled in the last 15 years.
Due to this increase in bear prevalence, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement urges residents to observe bear safety rules and guidelines. While there are undeniably more bears in the area, Kim Titchner, a wildlife conflict consultant, said there’s another factor to blame for the recent upswing in bear attacks.
“There’s more of us going into the outdoors because of COVID,” she said. “Every weekend the mountains are just crazy slammed. It’s inevitable we’re going to see more bear attacks on the landscape.”
MeatEater sends condolences to the friends and families affected by these events.
Feature image via Diana Robinson.