While it can be fun to laugh at the entertaining antics of black bears like many of the stories we’ve previously covered on this site, sometimes there are stark reminders that they are very much wild animals with sharp claws and strong jaws that are capable of delivering fatal blows to human beings.
Though attacks are rare, they do happen and unfortunately a black bear in Alberta, Canada, was just euthanized after fatally attacked a 26-year-old woman.
According to The Guardian, the woman was mauled while planting trees for a logging operation in the north-west region of the province. The victim’s family has asked that her identity remain anonymous.
A co-worker witnessed the attack and was able to scare the bear off before calling for help. She was evacuated from the scene by helicopter shortly after the attack, but by the time the helicopter landed to meet an ambulance she had succumbed to her injuries. Officials are curious as to what caused the attack, as it is believed to have been unprovoked.
Despite the high number of black bears in Alberta, and the high frequency in which people venture into the provinces wilderness, there have only been 5-fatal attacks since 1958.
However, according to a National Geographic report, black bear attacks in North America have been steadily increasing in recent decades. Between 1900 and 2009, 63 people were killed by attacking black bears. 86% of those attacked occurred after 1960 though. Between 2010 and 2013 there were 92 black bear attacks across the U.S. and Canada, but not all of them fatal.
The number of black bear attacks nearly doubled between 2010 and 2013. The increase in attacks is believed to be due mostly to the increase in bear numbers across the continent.
Officials took DNA samples from the victims clothing to create a profile for the bear, and through the use of trail cameras and hair snares they were able to find a genetic match for the attacking bear, an adult female without any cubs. The bear was subsequently euthanized.
The decision to remove the bear from the landscape was in accordance with Alberta’s Black Bear Response Guide, which aims to protect humans, property, and the black bear population. The guide was created by biologists, enforcement specialists and problem wildlife specialists, and helps officials determine what to do with a black bear should an incident occur
The guide prioritizes preventative actions first and foremost when it comes to human-bear conflicts, but in a situation like this the lethal removal of the bear was deemed necessary to prevent future threats.