Grizzly bear attack claims lives of two in Banff National Park

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PTC Canada Web Desk
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In a tragic incident, a grizzly bear attacked and killed two individuals in Banff National Park, located west of Sundre, Alberta. Parks Canada reported the devastating incident, which occurred on Friday night. The victims, who were common-law partners, had their dog with them at the time, and sadly, the pet also lost its life in the attack.

Victims Remembered as Outdoor Enthusiasts: According to a family member of one of the deceased, who has requested anonymity until all family members are informed, the couple shared a deep bond and loved spending time outdoors. The family member shared, "They were long-term partners who loved the outdoors and were inseparable. They lived for being in the backcountry and were two of the most cautious people I know. They knew the bear protocol and followed it to a tee."

Alert and Response: Parks Canada received an alert via a GPS device in the Red Deer River Valley, west of Ya Ha Tinda Ranch, around 8 p.m. on Friday, indicating a bear attack. Natalie Fay, external relations manager for the Banff field unit, stated that a team specially trained in wildlife attack responses was immediately mobilized. However, inclement weather conditions prevented the use of helicopters, causing the response team to travel by ground through the night.

"The response team arrived on-site at 1 a.m. and discovered two deceased individuals," Fay explained.

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Grizzly Bear's Aggressive Behavior: While at the scene, the response team encountered a grizzly bear displaying aggressive behavior, leading to the decision to euthanize the animal on-site to ensure public safety. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrived at 5 a.m. to transport the victims to Sundre, Alberta.

Parks Canada expressed its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims, acknowledging the profound tragedy of the incident.

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Rare and Unusual Incident:
 Kim Titchener, a human-wildlife conflict specialist in Alberta, emphasized that fatal bear encounters are rare. She noted that only 14 percent of grizzly bear attacks worldwide result in fatalities. Titchener, the founder of Alberta-based Bear Safety and More, stated, "Usually, when people have encounters with grizzlies, the bear goes one way, and the people go the other."

She added that most bear attacks are due to surprise encounters and that bears are typically more active at dusk. Titchener said, "They could have surprised a bear at close range and had an encounter that led to a defensive attack. It's extremely rare to see predatory attacks by grizzly bears, but not unheard of."

Precautionary Measures Taken: According to the family member of one of the victims, the couple had camped for the night and checked in regularly, emphasizing that they were not traveling after dark or setting up camp at the time of the attack. As a safety precaution, Parks Canada has issued a closure order for the area where the attack occurred. This closure includes the Red Deer and Panther valleys, extending from Snow Creek Summit east to the National Park boundary and north to Shale Pass, and will remain in effect until further notice.

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