Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 09:34:46 -0700
Subject: Mountain biker killed by bear in BC

Mountain bikers go too fast downhill to be aware of their surroundings, surprising and scaring the wildlife. Mountain biking can, in this case, be very detrimental to one's health.


[from a friend]
Bear attack suspected in mountain biker's death
Linda Nguyen
Vancouver Sun

Monday, July 23, 2007

Members of the RCMP are investigating what appears to be the province's latest bear attack after the body of a 34-year-old woman was found near Invermere Sunday. The woman had set off Saturday on the mountain biking trails at Panorama Mountain Village resort, about 19 kilometres west of Invermere in southeastern B.C.

She was reported missing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A search and rescue team found her near the Panorama Mountain Bike Park around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Sarah Harrison with the Ministry of Environment said. A black bear was found hovering over the woman's body.

"They located her with the bear guarding the body at the time. The bear was alive and the body wasn't," she said.

Harrison said the bear was shot and killed by an RCMP officer, before the province's conservation officers arrived at the scene.

It's unclear if the bear, estimated to be about 54 kilograms (120 pounds), had in fact fatally attacked the woman.

"They don't know whether the bear was the cause or whether it was just there," said Mark Woodburn, vice-president of Panorama Mountain Village.

The ministry is investigating the incident and an autopsy will be done on the bear to determine if it had killed the woman. An autopsy will also be done on the woman. The mountain operations were closed Sunday as RCMP and conservation officers investigated the incident.

"We're all shocked and saddened; something like this has never happened before," said Eric Whittle, Panorama's director of sales and marketing.

During the summer, the mountain is a popular spot for mountain bikers who can ride up chair lifts and ride down steep trails with varying degrees of difficulty.

Another incident involving mountain bikers and bears occurred on the weekend, when a couple near Banff found themselves face-to-face with a grizzly bear who was protecting her young. The young Jasper couple were on the Lake Minnewanka Trail around 8:15 p.m. Saturday when they came upon two grizzly cubs. The grizzly sow charged at the 22-year-old woman and the 32-year-old man from behind, forcing the two to jump off their bikes and make a run for it.

The two ran down to the lake, stumbling and falling on rocks as the bear huffed very close to the man. The sow and cubs then left the area. The man and woman were taken to hospital with minor cuts and scrapes.

A Clinton man was also lucky last week after surviving a bear attack during a morning bike ride July 16. Roy Klopp, 56, encountered an unusually aggressive bear around 11 a.m. on one of the walking trails above Clinton near the Cariboo Highway in the Kamloops-Thompson region.

The 90-kilogram bear tried to attack Klopp, a sawmill worker, while his two dogs attempted to fend it off.

He escaped with minor injuries only after the young bear bit him in the behind.

Barbara Murray of Bear Matters BC said such incidents can be prevented if cyclists take some precautions.

"People have to be bear aware in the woods," she said. "Look for bear scat on the trail, look for animal carcasses or a big berry bush. You have to be very alert and listen to cracking branches."

Murray said bears often attack because they're scared by cyclists. "Usually most bears aren't dangerous. They get surprised and try to do something, especially when they have cubs. But it only takes one swat from a bear to kill a person," she said.

Earlier this month, two forestry workers also encountered a bear near Invermere. The July 4 attack happened near Akinkoom Creek, 50 kilometres east of Canal Flats.

With files from CanWest News Service

The Vancouver Sun 2007