BANFF NATIONAL PARK, Canada – A portion of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, was closed by officials on Friday after a grizzly bear attacked and killed a couple visiting the park.
A Wildlife Human Attack Response Team, whose members are specifically trained in responding to wildlife attacks, was immediately dispatched to the location.
Weather conditions at the time the alert was received were not favorable for a helicopter to be dispatched, so the team instead traveled on the ground through the night to the area.
The team arrived at the location around 1 a.m. local time and found two people dead. And while the team was in the area investigating, they said they came upon the grizzly bear, which "displayed aggressive behavior, leading Parks Canada staff to euthanize the bear on-site to ensure public safety."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrived a few hours later, and the unidentified victims were transported to Sundre in Alberta.
"This is a tragic incident, and Parks Canada wishes to express its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims," park officials said.
After the attack, Parks Canada closed a portion of Banff National Park until further notice.
According to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), the couple’s dog was with them at the time of the attack and was also killed by the grizzly bear.
The family told the CBC they were "long-term partners who loved the outdoors and were inseparable."
Family members also said the couple was cautious, knew the bear safety protocols and "followed it to a tee."
The National Park Service warns people should keep their distance and stay calm if they encounter a bear. The agency suggests knowing several tips if you ever come face-to-face with a bear:
- Make yourself look as large as possible: Slowly wave your arms to let the bear know that you are not prey.
- Stay calm: Talk to the bear in only low tones. A scream or sudden movement might trigger an attack.
- Move slowly away: Don't run. Make sideways movements away from the bear.
- Be cautious around cubs: Don't approach or get between a mother and her cubs. Bears will attack to fend off any perceived dangers to the cubs.
National park officials said bear attacks are rare, and most bears are only interested in protecting food, cubs or their space.
"However, being mentally prepared can help you have the most effective reaction," the NPS said.
Brown/grizzly bears: If you're attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, leave your pack on and play dead. Lay flat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck and spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to flip you over, the NPS said.
Remain still and wait for the bear to leave the area.
Black bears: If you're attacked by a black bear, do not play dead. Try to escape to a secure place like a building or car. If you can't escape, try to fight back using any available object. The NPS says to concentrate your kicks and blows to the bear's face and muzzle.