Two people were killed over the weekend after being attacked by a grizzly bear in Canada’s Banff National, park authorities said.
Parks Canada Dispatch received an alert around 8 p.m. Friday from a GPS device indicating a bear attack in the Red Deer River Valley, west of Ya Ha Tinda Ranch, according to a statement shared on Banff National Park’s Facebook page.
The bear was euthanized for
aggressive behavior, officials said.
It was hours before a response team specializing in responding to wildlife attacks could reach the remote location. Unfavorable weather conditions ruled out using a helicopter, leaving the crew to travel to the area on foot overnight, officials said.
The team arrived at around 1 a.m. to find two people dead and “a grizzly bear that displayed aggressive behavior,” the park’s agency said.
Crew members euthanized the bear “on-site to ensure public safety.”
The area where the attack occurred has been closed until further notice, park officials said. Police arrived at around 5 a.m. and transported the victims to Sundre, town in central Alberta.
“This is a tragic incident, and Parks Canada wishes to express its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” Banff National Park said on its Facebook page.
Authorities have not publicly identified the victims. Kim Titchener, founder of Bear Safety & More in Alberta and a close friend of a relative of the victims, said the couple’s dog was also killed in the attack.
Parks Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to Parks Canada, there are 691 grizzly bears in Alberta, where they are considered a threatened species. About 65 grizzlies are believed to inhabit Banff National Park, which is also home to black bears.
Titchener, who works as a human-bear conflict specialist, said in an email that fatal bear attacks are “extremely rare in Banff National Park.”
“That being said bear attack rates are increasing in North America as the human population is increasing and more people are recreating, working and moving to areas where bears live,” Titchener said.
While attacks are rare, they are preventable, experts say. Parks Canada advises visitors to familiarize themselves with bear behavior, to travel in groups and to always carry bear spray.