A grizzly bear that yanked a camper from her tent during a fatal attack may have been killed after another incident, Montana officials said. However, it will take several days to determine if it was the same bear using DNA testing.
The Powell County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that after a days-long search, a grizzly bear was shot and killed in the same area where a woman was pulled from her tent by a bear on Tuesday. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said the bear was about 2 miles from the area.
“Last night, the Powell County Sheriff’s Office took a report from a resident who came home and found her door ripped off and large claw marks were present,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook Friday. “A short time later a male grizzly bear was killed in the area.”
Officials took samples of the bear’s DNA to determine if it was the bear involved in the fatal attack.
“Given the proximity to Tuesday’s attack, the evidence found at the scenes and the fact another chicken coop was raided, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials believe this is the same bear,” officials said Friday in a news release.
The Powell County Sheriff’s Office also said it is likely that the bear that was shot was involved in the attack.
“We hope to make positive identification within the next couple of days,” officials said. “Early indications are that this is likely the bear that was involved in Tuesday’s attack.”
Leah Davis Lokan, a 65-year-old from Chico, California, was camping near Ovando, Montana, a small rural town northwest of Helena, when she was attacked by a grizzly.
She and two other campers were woken up by a bear earlier in the night. They removed food from the area, secured their tents and went back to sleep.
Hours later, the couple in the group was startled awake by the sounds of a grizzly attack. The 400-pound bear had yanked Lokan from her tent, wildlife officials said.
The couple sprayed the bear with bear spray, and the bear hadn’t been seen since.
Lokan was an avid bicyclist and was traveling through the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route when she was attacked by the grizzly, according to CBS News.
“She always had a smile on her face. Always lit up when she saw you. Always gave you a big hug,” Mike Castaldo, president of the Chico Cycling Club, who knew Lokan for about 15 years, told CBS News. “But I think most of her identity was, you know, outside on the bike, enjoying the outdoors was her thing.”
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials searched for the grizzly by helicopter and on the ground for days.
The grizzly also ate several chickens in a coop in town, according to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Bears have been increasingly wandering into new areas in Montana as the population grows, state wildlife officials said. The state is bear country and is home to the largest grizzly population in the continental U.S.
The majority of bear encounters don’t involve any conflict, and bears are typically seeking a food source or protecting their young.
People recreating outdoors in bear territory should always carry bear spray and know how to use it, secure food, and keep a safe distance from any wildlife.