Two people, a male and a female, have been sent to Calgary by air after a bear attack near L.D. Ranch Road late Sunday afternoon, Nov. 25, 2012.
The victims have now been identified as Peter Moody and Susan Bond, both very well known in the Kimberley area as conservationists and outdoors-people. They are in stable condition in Calgary at Foothills Hospital.
Conservation Officer Joe Caravetta said on Monday morning that four officers were on the scene of the attack (just north of the St. Mary’s Band land, the road is accessed from Highway 95A north of Kimberley) trying to figure out exactly what happened.
“Here’s what we know now,” Caravetta said. “Two hikers were out near the L.D. Ranch Road at about 3 p.m. Sunday. We believe they came across and perhaps startled a sow and two cubs.”
Kimberley RCMP have confirmed that the attack occurred along a creek in thick brush. A deer kill was located within five metres of the attack location.
There was some initial confusion as to whether the bear was a grizzly, or a brown-coloured black bear.
“It is believed that the attack was defensive and based on evidence at the scene, it is believed it was a grizzly with at least one cub,” said Cpl. Pat Prefontaine of the Kimberley Cranbrook/ Detachment.
“From what we understand, the female hiker yelled at the bears and began to run,” Caravetta said. “The sow chased her and knocked her down. The man had a walking stick and he tried to save her. Then the bear attacked him.”
Caravetta says somehow the badly injured pair managed to make it to the road and get help.
““They each had several bites to the legs, groin, head and arms. Both victims were badly injured and distraught,” he said. He added that the male hiker initially reported that the bear was not a grizzly but did have two cubs.
CO’s confirmed that it was a grizzy later in the day.
“We can definitely now confirm it was a grizzly from tracks in the snow and mud,” Caravetta said. “The cub or cubs were young, born this spring.”
He said it was impossible to tell if there were one or two cubs, but the male hiker did report two cubs.
Conservation Officers were on the scene all day and Caravetta said that the bear had not been back to the site of the attack.
“That is common for a bear that has been traumatized,” he said. “The victims were traumatized but the bear was frightened too. The bear has left the area and we have made the decision that we will not track it. The bear was exhibiting normal behaviour, defending a kill and her cubs. There is absolutely no history of this bear in the area. We canvassed neighbours all day. She’s been raising her cubs since spring with no problems. Based on that, we made the decision that we will not destroy her.”
He says the RCMP were called initially, who then called the CO’s.
Sgt. Laurie Jalbert of the Kimberley/Cranbrook RCMP Detachment said that police were still a little unclear how the couple was rescued but said the call for help, first to BC Ambulance, then to the RCMP came from someone other than the victims.
Jalbert said the hikers are experienced outdoors people.
Caravetta says that the couple had apparently been out of town for a few weeks and just got home and decided to go for a walk.
The bear was believed to be in the Cherry Creek/Meadowbrook area and caution is urged for anyone traveling in the wooded portions of this area.
While CO’s will not track the bear, they do ask that anyone who sees a sow grizzly with one or two cubs in the Meadowbrook Cherry Creek area, call the Conservation Officer Service RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.