A couple killed in a bear attack at Canada’s Banff National Park have been identified by family as long-term partners who loved the outdoors.
Doug Inglis and Jenny Gusse, both 62, were killed by a grizzly bear on Friday while out backcountry camping.
Officials said the bear that attacked them was an older female that had a low body fat for this time of year.
Two cans of bear spray were found at the scene, they added, and the couple’s food was hung appropriately.
The couple was identified by their nephew, Colin Inglis, who told the CBC that the two were on day five of a week-long trip in the backcountry when they were killed.
“They are a couple that loved each other and loved the outdoors. And they were highly, highly experienced in being out back, whether it be serious treks or canoeing, whitewater canoeing in the North country,” Mr Inglis said.
Doug and Jenny were from Lethbridge, Alberta, a city about 250km (155 miles) south of Calgary, and had been together since high school, Mr Inglis said.
They were backcountry hiking with their dog, who was also killed in the attack.
The couple gave daily updates about their trip in the backcountry, Mr Inglis said, using a GPS device called Garmin inReach.
The day of the attack, the couple said they did not reach their intended camping site, but they had found another site to set up. Later that evening, they sent another alert.
“The message said, ‘Bear attack bad,'” Mr Inglis told the CBC.
Parks Canada said they received a similar alert from the couple on Friday at around 20:00 local time (02:00 GMT).
A Wildlife Human Attack Response Team was immediately deployed, but they had to trek to the site on foot as weather made it impossible to travel by helicopter.
The response team arrived at around 01:00 local time, officials said. They found the couple dead at the site, and a grizzly bear “that displayed aggressive behaviour” nearby.
The bear was shot and killed on-site by Parks Canada “to ensure public safety”.
In an update on Tuesday, officials said the couple were in a permitted area that did not have an active bear warning in place.
A necropsy on the bear revealed it was a non-lactating older female, believed to be over 25 years old.
Her teeth were in poor condition and the bear had less than normal body fat for this time of year.
“The incident happened in a remote wilderness location and there were no witnesses,” Parks Canada said in their update.
“We will never know the full details of what led to the attack and will not speculate. This incident is a tragedy, and our sincere condolences go out to the families of the victims.”
Officials added that fatal bear attacks are extremely rare. In the last 10 years, there have been three recorded non-fatal “surprise” encounters with grizzly bears in Banff National Park.
The death of the couple marks the first fatality by a grizzly bear in the park in decades, Parks Canada said.
But it is the second this year in North America. In July, a grizzly bear fatally mauled a woman on a forest trail west of Yellowstone National Park.
Only 14% of grizzly bear attacks are fatal, according to Reuters, but as more people head outdoors, human-bear encounters are on the rise.
Following the attack at Banff National Park, officials have closed an area around Red Deer and Panther valleys.
Source : BBC