Grizzly bear shot dead after dragging woman from tent and killing her

Wildlife rangers in night-vision goggles staked out chicken coop to kill animal

Emily Goddard
Saturday 10 July 2021 15:00
<p>A bear trap was set near the Ovando camping site where Leah Davis Lokan was killed</p>

A bear trap was set near the Ovando camping site where Leah Davis Lokan was killed

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A grizzly bear that pulled a woman from her tent and killed her has been fatally shot by wildlife officials, who used night-vision goggles to stake out a chicken coop the animal raided near a small Montana town.

The bear was shot shortly after midnight on Friday when it approached a trap set near the coop about two miles from Ovando, where Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of Chico, California, was killed on Tuesday.

Local authorities said campsites in the town would stay closed until DNA evidence from the animal came back, but they were “confident” they had caught the offending bear.

Greg Lemon, spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said tracks found at the coop matched those near the fatal attack.

Ms Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, was an experienced outdoors enthusiast and cyclist who was on a mountain-biking trip.

She and two companions were camping behind the Ovando post office when she was attacked.

Friends described Ms Lokan as a free spirit, but said she was aware of the dangers she faced on the trip.

The bear, estimated to have weighed 400lb, awakened Ms Lokan along with her companions in a nearby tent at about 3am on Tuesday, officials said.

After the bear ran away, the campers removed food from their tents, secured it and went back to sleep.

About 15 minutes later, the bear was seen on a video camera at a business about a block away from the post office, wildlife officials said.

But the sheriff’s office received a 911 call at about 4.15am after two people in a tent close to the victim’s were awakened by sounds of the attack, Powell County sheriff Gavin Roselles said. They used bear spray, and the animal ran away.

The bear is also believed to have entered a chicken coop in the town that night, killing and eating several chickens.

Ms Lokan was on a mountain-biking trip

Authorities hunted for the animal over three days, using helicopters and searchers on the ground, and set out five large traps made from steel culverts and baited with roadkill to attract the bear.

Bears that attack people are not always killed if the mauling resulted from a surprise encounter or the bear was defending its young. But the bear involved in Ms Lokan’s death was considered a public safety threat.

Bear attacks on people are relatively rare, particularly in inhabited areas, and Ovando businesses cater to adventure-seeking tourists, including cyclists like Ms Lokan, who are allowed to pitch their tents in town.

Locals said the bear’s death would bring relief to the community.

Dona Aitken, an artist who lives about seven miles east of the town, said: “Everybody recognises this as really abnormal behaviour, to actually attack somebody sleeping in a tent in town.

“I think we still don’t have a good answer for why the bear did that.”

In neighbouring Idaho, a female bear with her cub attacked and injured a man running on a trail on Friday.

The bear charged him, and he lay down to try to protect himself. The grizzly struck him several times and ran off, Idaho wildlife officials said.

The man’s injuries were not life-threatening, and he was able to make it back to his cabin to call 911. He was taken to hospital.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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