Husband, Wife Who 'Loved the Outdoors' Killed by Grizzly Bear in Canada's Banff National Park

Grizzly bear
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Two people were found dead in a grizzly bear attack in Alberta's Banff National Park, Parks Canada said in a statement.

Parks Canada in a statement Saturday night said it had received an alert late Friday from a GPS device indicating a bear attack originating from within Banff National Park, in the Red Deer River Valley west of Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.

Weather Conditions Delayed Response

In a statement, Natalie Fay, external relations manager for the Banff field unit said a team specially trained in wildlife attacks was immediately mobilized, but weather hindered their response time.

"Weather conditions at the time did not allow for helicopter use, and the response team travelled through the night to the location by the ground," she said. "The response team arrived on-site at 1 a.m. and discovered two deceased individuals." The couple's dog, who was with them at the time, was also killed.

'Aggressive' Bear was Later Euthanized

"They were long-term partners who loved the outdoors and were inseparable," read a statement from the victims' family member. "They lived for being in the backcountry and were two of the most cautious people I know. They knew bear protocol and followed it to a tee."

The team later euthanized the bear after it displayed aggressive behavior, the agency said. An area closure around Red Deer and Panther valleys has been implemented and will remain in place until further notice, Parks Canada said.

Fatal Bear Attacks are Rare

Banff National Park, which attracts more than four million tourists every year, is home to both grizzly and black bears. Only 14 per cent of grizzly bear attacks worldwide lead to fatalities, said Titchener, making this incident a rare occurrence.

"Often when people have encounters with grizzlies, usually the grizzly goes one direction and the people go in the other," said Kim Titchener, founder of Bear Safety and More. "So we rarely do see cases where we actually have everyone involved killed."

Titchener said that while she doesn't yet know the details of what happened, the majority of bear attacks tend to be caused by surprise run-ins. She added that the couple could have still been hiking or setting up their camp when they came in contact with the bear, and that bears do tend to be more active at dusk.

According to the family member of one of the deceased, the family received a notification via inReach at 5 p.m. that the couple had camped for the night.