Bear attack suspected in mountain biker's death

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Re: Bear attack suspected in mountain biker's death

Postby Todd » Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:55 am

Bear attack suspected in mountain biker's death

Linda Nguyen, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, July 23, 2007
Members of the RCMP are investigating what appears to be the province's latest bear attack after the body of a 34-year-old woman was found near Invermere Sunday. The woman had set off Saturday on the mountain biking trails at Panorama Mountain Village resort, about 19 kilometres west of Invermere in southeastern B.C.
She was reported missing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A search and rescue team found her near the Panorama Mountain Bike Park around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Sarah Harrison with the Ministry of Environment said. A black bear was found hovering over the woman's body.
"They located her with the bear guarding the body at the time. The bear was alive and the body wasn't," she said.
Harrison said the bear was shot and killed by an RCMP officer, before the province's conservation officers arrived at the scene.
It's unclear if the bear, estimated to be about 54 kilograms (120 pounds), had in fact fatally attacked the woman.
"They don't know whether the bear was the cause or whether it was just there," said Mark Woodburn, vice-president of Panorama Mountain Village.
The ministry is investigating the incident and an autopsy will be done on the bear to determine if it had killed the woman. An autopsy will also be done on the woman.
The mountain operations were closed Sunday as RCMP and conservation officers investigated the incident.
"We're all shocked and saddened; something like this has never happened before," said Eric Whittle, Panorama's director of sales and marketing.
During the summer, the mountain is a popular spot for mountain bikers who can ride up chair lifts and ride down steep trails with varying degrees of difficulty.
Another incident involving mountain bikers and bears occurred on the weekend, when a couple in Banff found themselves face-to-face with a grizzly bear who was protecting her young.
The young Jasper couple were on the Lake Minnewanka Trail around 8:15 p.m. Saturday when they came upon two grizzly cubs.
The grizzly sow charged at the 22-year-old woman and the 32-year-old man from behind, forcing the two to jump off their bikes and make a run for it.
The two ran down to the lake, stumbling and falling on rocks as the bear huffed very close to the man. The sow and cubs then left the area.
Both were taken to hospital with minor cuts and scrapes.
A Clinton man was also lucky last week after surviving a bear attack during a morning bike ride July 16.
Roy Klopp, 56, encountered the unusually aggressive bear around 11 a.m. on one of the walking trails above Clinton near the Cariboo Highway in the Kamloops-Thompson region.
The 90-kilogram bear tried to attack Klopp, a sawmill worker, while his two dogs attempted to fend it off.
He escaped with minor injuries only after the young bear bit him in the behind.
Barbara Murray of Bear Matters BC said such incidents can be prevented if cyclists take some precautions.
"People have to be bear aware in the woods," she said. "Look for bear scat on the trail, look for animal carcasses or a big berry bush. You have to be very alert and listen to cracking branches."
Murray said often, bears attack because they're scared by cyclists.
"Usually most bears aren't dangerous. They get surprised and try to do something, especially when they have cubs. But it only takes one swat from a bear to really kill a person," she said.
Earlier this month, two forestry workers also encountered a bear near Invermere.
The July 4 attack happened near Akinkoom Creek, 50 kilometres east of Canal Flats, between Cranbrook and Invermere.
The bear had grabbed a male forestry worker's arm in its jaws while he tried to get away by hiding underneath a dead tree.
The bear then sank his teeth into the man's thigh as it tried to pull him back out.
He was able to kick the bear in the nose as his female co-worker fired at it with bear spray.
The man was flown to Cranbrook hospital and treated for bites and gashes on his leg and arm.

"Nothing is easier than spending public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody." Calvin Coolidge
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Re: Bear attack suspected in mountain biker's death

Postby Todd » Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:55 am

Why no bear alert, victim's brother asks
Woman's kin devastated by B.C. mauling
Kerry Williamson and Joel Kom, Calgary Herald
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The family of a Calgary woman likely killed by a black bear at Panorama Mountain Village is questioning why the hill was allowed to remain open despite reports of an aggressive bear in the area.

Robin Kochorek's body was found early Sunday, guarded by a small brown-nosed black bear on a logging road about 400 metres away from a mountain biking trail.

She had been reported missing Saturday afternoon, after she decided against riding down an intermediate run with two friends, instead erring on the side of caution and taking an easier route.

An autopsy will be performed on the 31-year-old Calgarian's body this morning, and until then officials cannot confirm how she died. However, wildlife officers say it is likely she was killed by a bear, while a necropsy of the animal found near her body showed it contained human remains.

"From what I saw on site, it certainly does look as if the bear is the cause of the lady's death," said B.C. conservation officer Paul Visentin.

Kochorek's family is devastated by her death, and is asking why Panorama remained open on Saturday despite reports that a bear had been acting aggressively toward other mountain bikers.

Michael Kochorek, Robin's 36-year-old brother, said search and rescue leaders told him of a bear in the area and they were given bear spray as they headed out.

Lindsay Stene, who was riding with Kochorek on Saturday, said she was told after her friend went missing that there had been a bear spotted acting aggressively on the hill.

"They told us that there had been reports of more than one rider being chased on the trail by a bear. That seems odd to us," Michael Kochorek told the Herald Monday.

"If there's a bear on the hill I don't think people should be allowed to go on the hill and be put in harm's way until the bear has been taken out. Why wasn't the mountain closed until the bear was found?"

Mark Woodburn, Panorama's general manager, said there had been no reported sightings of a bear on the hill since Wednesday.

Stene, who alerted Panorama staff after Kochorek failed to return to the bottom of the hill, said staff members at Panorama told her about a bear that had been acting aggressively.

"Two staff people said 'not to freak you out, but there's been a curious bear in the area.' One of the people said this bear has been chasing mountain bikers," said Stene, 33. "I just about collapsed when I heard that."

Stene said neither she nor Kochorek had any inkling there may have been a bear on the hill. She said that if there had have been warning signs posted, the pair wouldn't have ridden the trails.

"We wouldn't dream of going to a place where there is a big sign saying there's a bear in the area," said Stene, who met Kochorek at grad school at the University of Alberta. "She wouldn't have done that. I wouldn't have done that."

A Panorama spokesman initially said Monday that a sign warning of bears in the area was posted at the bottom of the chairlift on Saturday, but he later said that wasn't the case.

There will typically be around 12 to 14 bear sightings over a summer, Woodburn said. In his four years at Panorama, there have been just two aggressive encounters, both of them this year. The first was in the spring when a black bear made its way into a cabin; the other was on Saturday, the incident involving Kochorek.

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Nobody had been killed by a bear on the hill before, said Woodburn, who said Kochorek was 700 metres off the beginner trail, known as Let It Ride, and was not on the actual Panorama hill when she was found. The trails were well-marked, he said.

"It's a long way away, 700 metres is a long way," he said, adding his thoughts were with Kochorek's family. "We'll continue on, but things will be different."

An autopsy is scheduled for today, and should show cause of Kochorek's death as well as if she was attacked from behind. Kochorek had physical trauma to most of her body.

RCMP Staff-Sgt. Doug Pack said concerns about Kochorek were reported to Panorama staff around 4 p.m., though a Panorama spokesperson said that happened around 7 or 7:30 p.m.

"She was missing for about five hours before we got a call," Pack said.

Meanwhile, an area near Lake Minnewanka and Aylmer Pass, where two mountain bikers narrowly escaped an attack from a sow protecting her two young cubs on Saturday, will remain closed indefinitely. Three backcountry campgrounds along Lake Minnewanka are also closed.

And the return of a resident grizzly sow and her two yearling cubs to a hiking area near Moraine Lake in Banff National Park has forced Parks Canada to enforce mandatory hiking restrictions.

People must hike in a tight group of four at Consolation Lakes, Larch Valley, Sentinel Pass, Wasatch Pass, Eiffel Lake, Sheol Valley, East Wenkchemna Pass and Paradise Valley.

"Nothing is easier than spending public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody." Calvin Coolidge
Posts: 14434
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2001 12:00 am
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