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B.C. conservation officers probe possible fatal bear attack - Xaxli'p First Nation

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  • Don Bain
    B.C. conservation officers probe possible fatal bear attack By: Andrew Weichel, ctvbc.ca Date: Saturday Jul. 2, 2011 6:24 PM PT
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2 8:47 PM
      B.C. conservation officers probe possible fatal bear attack
      By: Andrew Weichel, ctvbc.ca
      Date: Saturday Jul. 2, 2011 6:24 PM PT


      Authorities are investigating what may be a fatal bear attack after finding a woman's fed-upon remains near Lillooet, B.C. on Thursday.

      The remains were found by Stl'atl'imx Tribal Police while investigating the disappearance of a Xaxli'p First Nation senior who has been missing since last Saturday.

      A pool of blood, pair of glasses and a blood-stained jacket covered with animal fur were found near the woman's home, located kilometers away from her nearest neighbour and separated by river from Lillooet.

      Acting Sgt. Cheryl Simpkin-Works said the remains were discovered about 150 feet east of the residence in a dense wooded area where apparent bear beds and feces were found.

      Conservation Officer Rod Olsen told ctvbc.ca the victim's identity will be confirmed by an autopsy early next week. Coroners will also determine whether she was mauled or died of natural causes.

      "Black bear [attacks] certainly in B.C. are rare. We've only had two fatal attacks since 2002," Olsen said.

      Olsen said the remote location suggests there isn't an immediate threat to public safety, but that authorities have set snares in the area and have already put down two bears.

      "We're in the process of finishing off necropsies on them and [we'll] see if we can identify if they're the bears at the site via hair samples, DNA," he said.

      A potential issue could arise later in the summer when the river level drops, he added.

      "It's not unusual for bears to swim over into Lillooet," Olsen said. "The fact that it's fed upon a person, we want to remove that bear from the area."

      The missing woman is in her mid-70s and a well-respected First Nations elder.

      While the deceased's identity has not been confirmed, Chief Art Adolph issued a statement on behalf of the missing woman's family.

      "It's a sad situation that we have here in our community," Adolph said. "We really would like to extend our thanks to all the people that were involved with this [investigation]."

      Conservation officers will be releasing more information after the autopsy is completed.

      Olsen said there are two possible reasons for a bear to attack a human. The animal may be defending its territory, food or young, or could be on the hunt.

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