A 15-year-old Alberta boy out camping was airlifted to hospital in stable condition Sunday after being mauled by a black bear.
“The bear entered the tent,” said Cameron Heke of Stars Air Ambulance.
“The person did sustain injuries from that attack.”
Stars Air Ambulance transported the teen to hospital in Edmonton after the 5:30 a.m. attack at Roche Lake, 160 kilometres northwest of the Alberta capital.
The teen had been out enjoying the holiday long weekend driving all-terrain vehicles with his family at a remote site accessible only by a four-hour drive on the quad machines.
The boy’s name was not released by the Sustainable Resources Development Department, citing privacy rules.
Department spokesperson Joan McCracken said the campers had first seen the bear the night before the attack, when it wandered into the area.
“One of the campers fired gunshots into the area to scare the bear away,” said McCracken.
But the next morning, the bear entered a tent and attacked the boy, getting scared off a second time after a camper again fired shots over its head, said McCracken.
Heke said the campers reacted quickly, giving their GPS position so the rescue helicopter could find them quickly, then illuminating a makeshift landing area using the lights from their quads.
“They were able to provide solid information to get our crew into the area,” said Heke.
Heke couldn’t detail the boy’s injuries but said he was flown to the University Hospital in stable condition.
McCracken could not provide a condition update late Sunday.
“We have to respect the privacy of the family,” she said.
She said other hunters have told Fish and Wildlife Officers they shot a male black bear leaving the area near the campsite about three hours after the mauling.
“We don’t know (if it’s the same bear),” said McCracken.
“The hunters were at a camp across the lake. They saw a bear walk out onshore and they started hunting. They were not aware of the mauling.”
The bear will undergo an autopsy and DNA testing.
Other campers in the area were asked to leave, though McCracken couldn’t say how many.
“Fish and Wildlife is monitoring the area closely,” she said.
Officials say given recent cool weather and the late spring, bears are actively hunting for food to replenish their fat reserves.