Alberta Surveyors Mauled By Grizzly

Bear Charges From Den Unexpectedly

Vancouver Sun, Bear Hunting Magazine

Two Alberta forestry surveyors who were mauled by a grizzly bear Saturday after they accidentally walked over a hidden den are recovering in a Grande Prairie hospital. The man and woman, both contract workers for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, were collecting data on trees infested with mountain pine beetles in a remote area about 155 kilometres south of Grande Prairie.

Annette Bidniak of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development said the bear's den was well-camouflaged under deep snow and brush. "The den was built into the side of a hill and there were fallen trees," Bidniak said Sunday. "The average person wouldn't even know the den was there."

The startled bear came out of the den and attacked the surveyors from behind, first mauling the man, then turning on the woman. The man was injured in the upper thigh and the woman suffered injuries to her hand and wrist, Bidniak said.

The bear retreated and the woman ran up a hill and radioed for a helicopter, which was already on its way to pick them up at the end of their shift.

The victims, both in their mid-twenties, were flown to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie. Both needed surgery and remain in hospital. Their names have not been released. Fish and wildlife officials are searching for the bear.

There are approximately 500 contract workers surveying Alberta forests for mountain pine beetles, mainly in the northwestern part of the province, Bidniak said. Many are seasonal firefighters accustomed to working in the bush.

"All surveyors receive survival and bear awareness training," Bidniak said. "You don't hear of many bear attacks in the winter months but the risk is there," Bidniak says. "Any bear can be roused under the right circumstances."

Survey crews have been instructed not to go within a five-kilometre radius of the bear den, which is about 16 kilometres east of Nose Mountain Tower.

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