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Two injured in bear attack near Kimberley

Carolyn Grant

Two people, a male and a female, have been sent to Calgary by air ambulance after a bear attack late Sunday afternoon near Kimberley.

Conservation Officer Joe Caravetta said on Monday morning that four officers were on the scene of the attack near L.D. Ranch Road (just north of the St. Mary's Band land — the road is accessed from Highway 95A north of Kimberley) trying to figure out exactly what happened.

"Here's what we know now," Caravetta said. "Two hikers were out near the L.D. Ranch Road at about 3 p.m. Sunday. We believe they came across and perhaps startled a sow and two cubs. We don't know yet if it was black bears or grizzlies.

"The female hiker yelled at the bears and began to run. The sow chased her and knocked her down. Then the sow chased the male hiker and attacked him. The sow then turned and re-attacked the female hiker."

Caravetta says somehow the badly injured pair managed to make it to the road and get help.

"Both victims were badly injured and distraught," he said. "They each had several bites to the legs, groin, head and arms. At this time we don't know their condition. They were sent to Calgary and that's all we know."

He says the RCMP were called, who then called the CO's.

Sgt. Laurie Jalbert of the Kimberley/Cranbrook RCMP Detachment said that police were still a little unclear how the couple was rescued but said the call for help, first to BC Ambulance, then to the RCMP came from someone other than the victims.

“There was quite a bit of blood loss and there was a lot of turmoil at the scene but the fellow who was attacked was able to say that it was a female with cubs, not a grizzly, but a brown bear.”

Jalbert, who hikes herself in that area says there is a cinnamon coloured black bear sow who lives in that area, though she cannot confirm if it was that bear.

Conservation Officers didn’t arrive on the scene until almost dark, Caravetta said.

"We didn't get out there until just before dark. There were four officers out there last night and they did find the attack site, but it was after dark. We don't know if it was black bears or grizzlies, we don't know how old the cubs were. We don't want to jump to conclusions. The officers are out there now trying to assess the situation and figure out what happened. We are asking the public to stay away from the area today and let the officers do their job."

Caravetta says that if it was a black bear, that would be quite unusual this late in the year, and you'd have to assume if it was the bears were not in good shape. Grizzlies are more possible at this time of year, he said.

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