Canada grizzly bear attack victims were on permitted hike, carrying bear spray

(Reuters) – The two people killed by a grizzly bear in Alberta’s Banff National Park last week were on a permitted hiking and camping trip and there was no active bear warning at the time incident, Canadian park officials said on Tuesday.

Park staff found two cans of bear spray at the scene and that the individuals’ food had been hung appropriately to avoid attracting animals, Parks Canada said in a statement.

The deaths were the first from a grizzly bear in Banff National Park in decades and involved a bear that was not collared, tagged or previously known to park staff, according to the statement.

Parks Canada was alerted about the bear attack late Friday and the response team shot and killed the animal when it charged at them.

Officials, through a necropsy, determined the bear to be a non-lactating older female, estimated to be over 25 years old. The bear was in fair condition but had less than normal body fat for this time of year and had bad teeth.

“Parks Canada does not believe another bear was involved at this time,” it said, adding that an area closure has been put in place out of an abundance of caution.

Parks Canada said it will not release information related to the victims’ identities. The victims were a Canadian couple and their dog, according to Kim Titchener, the founder of Bear Safety and More and also a friend of the family.

Bear sightings increase during autumn as they become more active searching for food ahead of hibernating in the cold winter months. Banff National Park, which attracts more than 4 million tourists every year, is home to both grizzly and black bears.

There are about 60 grizzly bears in Banff National Park and are considered to be a threatened population in Alberta. Over the last 10 years, there have been three recorded non-fatal, contact encounters with grizzly bears in the Park.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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