British tourist mauled to death by grizzly bear

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH tourist died when he sacrificed himself to save his wife from attack by a grizzly bear in Alberta, Canada.

Trevor Percy-Lancaster, 46, from Winchester, Hampshire, died when he and his wife were attacked on Tuesday in Jasper National Park. His wife, Cherry Reksten, 45, was said to be 'stable' in the University Hospital, Edmonton, with wounds to her head, back and buttocks.

Mr Percy-Lancaster, an artist, died from massive injuries suffered after he drew the bear away from his wife. Gerry Israelson, a park spokesman, said: 'He may well have saved his wife's life.'

The attack took place in an isolated, heavily wooded area of the park after a heavy snowfall. Mr Percy-Lancaster and his wife were pitching camp when they surprised the 312lb (141kg) bear by a stream. Instead of dropping to the ground and playing dead, as park wardens advise, the couple ran away and the bear gave chase.

Mr Percy-Lancaster's wife climbed a tree, but the bear caught her by her hiking boots and pulled her to the ground. Her husband then attracted the bear's attention while she fled in panic.

Park wardens investigating the incident were in turn surprised by the bear, which they shot dead. Mr Percy-Lancaster was found dead with injuries to his head and torso. Part of his leg had been eaten.

Mr Israelson said the bear was not large for an adult male, but grizzly bears were ferocious. 'This incident is extremely rare in the park. There have only been two people killed by bears since 1929. This is the third.'

But National Park wardens in the Rockies fear the early onset of winter and a poor berry harvest, one of the grizzly's main sources of food, could lead to attacks.

Ian Syme, an assistant chief warden, said animals that normally forage at higher elevations were coming down into the valleys in search of food. 'They are under a great deal of stress and that may lead to behaviour that is out of the ordinary,' he said.

He warned that with so little food around there was not much hope of bears fattening up to reach hibernation weight. 'They are going to come out next spring looking for food very quickly and perhaps very aggressively.'