Woman dead after bear mauling in northern Alberta: RCMP

File photo of an RCMP cruiser. Global News / File

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally said the woman who died was a tree planter, based on information provided to Global News by the RCMP. The RCMP have since clarified that she worked for a helicopter company that transported tree planters in and out of the area. The article has been updated to reflect the new information.

A 26-year-old woman has died after she was mauled by a bear in northern Alberta over the weekend.

The RCMP said the woman, who worked for a helicopter company that transported tree planters in and out of the area, was attacked in a remote part of Big Lakes County on Saturday afternoon.

Police said they were notified of the mauling at about 3 p.m. Alberta Justice said Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers were told the incident occurred on Crown land about 30 kilometres northwest of Swan Hills, Alta.

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An RCMP spokesperson told Global News that the woman was airlifted to an airport in Swan Hills, by a helicopter used by a tree-planting organization. She was met by emergency personnel at the airport who pronounced her dead at the scene.

The RCMP were told by a witness it appeared the woman was mauled by a black bear.

A spokesperson for Alberta Justice also said it is suspected that an adult black bear mauled the woman, who is believed to have been working at the time.

“Fish and wildlife officers are investigating the incident and have set up a trail camera and traps in the area,” Shawna King said in an email to Global News. “Officers took samples from the victim’s clothing, which are being analyzed to create a DNA profile of the offending bear.

“Officers have located three black bears near the site of the incident and are currently awaiting DNA results to identify if any are the offending bear. In the meantime, officers continue to monitor the situation and leave bear traps in the area.”

King said if anyone sees a bear in the wild, there are things they can do to mitigate the potential for a violent encounter:

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-Do not run. Stay calm. Stay with your group and keep children close. Assess the situation.

-Look around. If you see cubs or an animal carcass, the bear will want to protect them. If you see either, back away.

-Be prepared to use bear spray.

-Back out. Leave the area the way that you came. Keep your eye on the bear without staring at it aggressively.

-Watch for a place to hide, like a car or building.

-Speak to the bear in a soft, low voice. Let the bear know that you are human and not a prey animal.

-Use your noisemaker and prepare to defend yourself with bear spray.

“We offer our sincere condolences to the family on this tragic incident,” King said.

For more information on how to mitigate your chance of having an encounter with a bear, click here.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about bears.


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