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Fur Trapper Kills Grizzly Bear After His Wife and Baby Were Mauled in the Yukon

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Conservation officers at the Department of Environment, as well as the Yukon coroner’s office, were expected to complete a necropsy of the grizzly bear soon, said Roxanne Stasyszyn, a department spokeswoman. The investigation will try to determine whether the grizzly killed by Mr. Roesholt was the same that attacked his family, and whether it was prompted because it felt threatened or because it saw the mother and child as prey.

“It’s fair to say that the further you go from the community, the more in bear habitat you’ll tread,” said Ms. Stasyszyn, who added that encounters with bears occur far more frequently than bear attacks.

“They are not very common,” she said.

The last killing of a human by a bear in the Yukon was in October 2014, when a bear broke into a Canadian couple’s cabin and mauled a woman. In April 2006, an employee at a mining company accidentally walked into a bear den, and a mother bear killed him. In July 1996, a young bear found a campsite along a popular hiking trail and fatally attacked a woman who tried to play dead, believing it would cause the bear to leave her alone.

Across Canada, there are 30,000 grizzly bears, according to the latest estimates, and the largest population is believed to be in the Yukon. They are generally the most feared bear, along with polar bears, in Canada and can react aggressively when they see humans.

Andy McMullen, a bear safety consultant in Canada, said the grizzly attack in the Yukon was especially surprising because it occurred during a time of the year when bears typically retreat to their dens to hibernate for the winter. Bears in some parts of the country, depending on the climate, begin hibernation around the start of November, he said.

“Surprise encounters are typically the cause of grizzly bear attacks,” said Mr. McMullen, who lives in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. McMullen, who is not involved in the investigation, said it seemed likely that the grizzly bear started to charge Mr. Roesholt because it was trying to keep him away from the two bodies. “It’s defending its kill,” he said.


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