A grizzly bear is seen in this undated handout photo. Scientists say conflict between grizzly bears and people in southwestern Alberta is growing. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

DNA sample confirms grizzly attacked man west of Sundre

A DNA sample has confirmed it was a grizzly attacked man west of Sundre last week.

On Aug. 24, a Calgary-man hiked about 13 kms to safety after he was attacked by the bear. The 32-year-old man then drove to Sundre.

Brendan Cox, Alberta Justice spokesperson, said the man suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries to his head and face.

The man was having breakfast in the Panther River area when he was attacked. After escaping he drove to the Mountain Aire Lodge area and was airlifted in a private helicopter to Sundre. Later he was transferred to a Calgary area hospital.

Cox said a DNA sample, taken off the man that was attacked, confirmed the attacking bear was a grizzly.

The incident was one day ahead of the opening day of bighorn sheep hunting season in the area.

“He was out there scouting the backcountry area in anticipation of the opening of the hunting season,” said Cox.

The area has since been closed to the public, with tape marking off the access points to the area. Traps have also been set up and fish and wildlife officers are actively trying to catch the bear.

When he was attacked, the mn was about 12-13 kms away from the trailhead.

Cox offered some advice to help people mitigate bear risk while in the back country:

  • Being quiet and using animal attractants and calls and being by yourself, increases the risk of a bear encounter.
  • Hunters should be bear smart: look for bear scat, digging or overturned rocks.
  • Hunters don’t have to be stealthy, it is much better to warn bears rather than be quiet and risk a surprise encounter.
  • Firearms aren’t always readily available and bear spray is important. People should carry bear spray in a holster or somewhere easily accessible.
  • Travel in a group and make noise as you go.

Anyone who does encounter a bear can call the Report-a-Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

On July 2, a bear charged at a man geocaching in the Harold Creek area, south of Sundre. The bear attempted to drag the man off into the bush, but the man freed himself and drove to Water Valley and met up with park rangers. From there he was taken by ground ambulance to a Calgary-area hospital. He suffered non-life threatening injuries.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

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