David Lertzman went out for a run on Moss Trail near Waiparous Village in Alberta on Tuesday, May 4. After he failed to return home, his wife, Sarah Lertzman, went out looking for him early in the night. “I was looking for a man in trouble and not for a scene of something that had happened,” Sarah wrote on her Facebook page.
She reportedly walked past the place where her husband had been attacked and saw no sign of it. “I did not know the risk to myself in that moment, and I am truly blessed that nothing happened to me, as the officers reminded me repeatedly later in the night,” she said.
David was attacked from behind by a grizzly bear, which pushed him off a 300-meter embankment. Emergency responders found him down below, near the river. “The wounds were consistent with an instantaneous death, so he suffered very little. This was important for me to know,” Sarah wrote.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife officials believe a single female grizzly was responsible for the attack and it was likely a defensive response—not predatory.
"It is not known whether the female grizzly was accompanied by cubs, but based on evidence, a single bear was involved in the attack," said Ina Lucila, a spokeswoman for Alberta Justice.
Wildlife officials closed Moss Trail and set traps, but the bear has not been caught or even seen after three weeks.
“Because there hasn’t been any bear activity detected in the past couple weeks, officers have removed the traps to mitigate the risk of inadvertently attracting other predators to the area,” Lucila said.
Lertzman, 59, will be remembered as a respected assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, where he focused on sustainable development with Indigenous peoples and led wilderness retreat courses in the Kananaskis country.
Friend Kari Woo organized a GoFundMe page to support Sarah and her two young children in this trying time. “[David] changed so many of our lives, inspired us to be better, to stand taller, and take care of one another,” Woo said.
MeatEater sends condolences Lertzman’s family and friends.
Feature image via University of Calgary.