A 26-year-old Alberta woman has been mauled to death by a black bear. She is only the fifth casualty of the species in the Canadian province since 1958.
Alberta police report Wednesday that the woman, a helicopter engineer, was attacked in the province’s north-west region. Tragically, while planting trees after a logging operation in the remote wilderness, the 26-year-old was mauled to death by a large black bear.
The initial attack took place on Saturday, July 31, 2021. Witnesses present would identify the assailant as an adult black bear before coming to the woman’s rescue. After coming to her aid and helping scare off the bear, the team called for help.
“She was evacuated by her co-worker on a helicopter and brought back to the Swan Hills airport where they met up with an ambulance, emergency crews, and she was subsequently declared deceased at the airport,” Cpl. Troy Savinkoff, RCMP spokesperson, tells the Canadian Press.
The woman’s family respectfully asks that her identity remain private. She is only the fifth victim of a fatal black bear mauling in Alberta since 1958.
According to The Guardian, one other documentation of a tree planter dying from a black bear mauling exists. In 1985, 24-year-old Gordon Ray would die by the species in British Columbia.
Wildlife Officials Searching for Unusual, Deadly Black Bear
Alberta wildlife officials are currently searching for this particular bear. Both trail cameras and traps are currently in use in order to capture it – in hopes of preventing any further casualties. In addition, officials have samples of the bear’s DNA from the victim’s clothing. This will allow for a DNA profile of the black bear, which could prove invaluable in saving further lives.
As of Wednesday, three adult black bears are present in the area of the woman’s tragic death. Officials now have DNA samples from each bear and await results to confirm if one is the responsible individual.
The death of anyone or any bear is never the preferable outcome, but officials are likely to euthanize the wild animal if identified. This will not be the case, however, if there is a labeling of the attack as “defensive” in nature.
Encounters between man and bears are on the rise in both wild and urban environments. Yet as the numbers show, black bear fatalities remain incredibly rare in the Alberta province. This is despite a healthy, large population for the species.
Tree planters such as the 26-year-old victim, however, have a greater risk of encountering large predators. When re-foresting in remote areas (such as taigas and deep boreal forests), planters may encounter black and brown bears, alongside more elusive cougars and wolves.
Continue on here for further information on how best to avoid and/or survive black bear encounters.