Although Parks Canada will not be releasing the names of the two individuals who were killed in a Grizzly bear attack last weekend, officials confirmed that they had been travelling with their dog at the time of the attack. The dog was also found dead.
The individuals were on a backcountry hiking and camping trip and had the appropriate permits to do so.
"Two cans of bear spray were found at the scene and their food had been hung appropriately. 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 stated.
Parks Canada officials said that the incident happened in a remote wilderness location and there were no witnesses.
"We will never know the full details of what led to the attack and will not speculate. This incident is a tragedy, and our sincere condolences go out to the families of the victims."
The mature female Grizzly, which was euthanized by Parks staff was not collared or tagged and was not previously known to Parks Canada staff.
However, following a necropsy on the bear, it was determined to be a non-lactating older female – estimated to be over 25 years old - deemed to be in fair body condition; her teeth were in poor condition and had less than normal body fat for this time of year.
"DNA samples from the bear have been sent to the lab to confirm that it was the animal responsible for the attack. Updated results from these studies will only be provided if they differ from the information shared to date," Parks Canada stated.
Officials do 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.
On September 29, at approximately 8 p.m. Parks Canada Dispatch in Banff National Park received an alert from an inReach/GPS device indicating a bear attack. The alert location originated from within Banff National Park, in the Red Deer River Valley west of Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.
Parks Canada immediately mobilized a Wildlife Human Attack Response Team whose members are specially trained in responding to wildlife attacks. Weather conditions at the time did not allow for helicopter use, and the response team travelled through the night to the location by ground.
The response team arrived on-site at 1 a.m. and discovered two deceased individuals. While in the area, the response team encountered a grizzly bear that displayed aggressive behaviour, leading Parks Canada staff to euthanize the bear on-site to ensure public safety.
Sundre RCMP arrived at 5 a.m. to assist and the victims were transported to Sundre. Parks Canada added that although this is a tragic event, bear attacks are rare occurrences.
"Fatal bear attacks are even less frequent. Over the last 10 years, there have been three recorded non-fatal, contact encounters with grizzly bears in Banff National Park. These incidents were the result of surprise encounters."
This incident is the first grizzly bear-caused fatality recorded in Banff National Park in decades.
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