Alberta Fish and Wildlife said Sunday that officers captured and “positively identified the grizzly bear responsible for the fatal attack” on a woman in Water Valley on May 25, saying it will be put down.
On May 29, officers said they captured two large mature grizzly females near the site of the attack.
“One of the bears was lactating but did not appear to be actively nursing due to the minimal volume of milk. Officers do not believe that she had cubs with her,” Alberta Fish and Wildlife said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“The other bear is a mature sow that was not lactating. Her teeth are extremely worn, suggesting she is an older and post-prime bear.”
Alberta Fish and Wildlife analyzed DNA samples from both bears and confirmed that the older female grizzly with the worn teeth was responsible for the fatal attack on the woman but was not the same animal involved in the fatal attack on a man in the Waiparous Village area earlier in May.
Officers said the bear will be euthanized on Sunday, “in accordance with the grizzly bear response guide.”
“This decision is never made lightly, and when it is made, it is to prevent more attacks by that particular bear,” wildlife officers said.
Alberta government spokesperson Paul Matwychuk said “several factors” led to the decision to euthanize the bear rather than relocate it.
“The bear killed a human, and by all accounts, is an old bear, which could be post-prime and as a result, is unlikely to add very little to the overall population in the area,” he said via email.
“The grizzly bear matrix states very clearly that bears that kill humans are euthanized when captured. There are exceptional cases, but it would be rare for us not to remove a bear from the population if it has killed a person.”
Alberta Fish and Wildlife said the second bear will be released at a to-be-determined location, and all traps will be removed from the area.
Officers warned people to be safe and follow guidelines to prevent similar tragedies “due to the unusually large number of bears still in the area.”
Report bear sightings or encounters to the Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.