RCMP say a hunter who went missing in Kananaskis on Saturday was killed when he accidentally got between a mother bear and her cub. 

Rick Cross died of severe trauma from a bear attack and his body was found near his backpack. RCMP have also recovered his rifle. 

"Rick lived life to the fullest in everything that he did from his Christian faith, his loving family, his successful business ventures, photography, outdoorsmanship and his deep desire to impact those around him," read a family statement.

Cross was involved in many volunteer roles such as teaching Sunday school, church ministries, Camp Teepee Pole, Christian Service Brigade and other various charities. 

"His biggest passion over the last 10 years has been helping the marginalized children in countries like Haiti and Liberia," said his family.

"He has spent time in both countries and has had made a profound impact in these communities."

In lieu of flowers, the family asks those who knew Cross to send donations to the charities he supported through the Unity Christian Mission.

Fate of bears undetermined

RCMP say it looks like he wandered into the area where the mother and cub were feeding on a dead deer.

"I'm sure the whole incident took place in a very short time," said Glenn Naylor, a district conservation officer with Alberta Parks. "So the reaction time would have been very, very minimal."

Although Cross was mauled, the bears left after the incident so officials believe it was a defensive attack. Conservation officers are now trying to determine what to do about the animals.

The Picklejar day use area remains closed.

A bear closure has been issued for all areas south of the Mist Ridge trail between the Mist Ridge trail and Lantern Creek north of Highway 40. The closure does not include Mist Creek trail or Mist Ridge trail.

Kim Titchener with WildSmart, a conservation group that tries to reduce negative interactions between humans and wildlife, says bears are trying to consume as much food as possible in preparation for winter.

She says there are some steps to take in the event of a bear attack.

"If a defensive bear charges you, spray it with bear spray," said Titchener. "If you don't have bear spray drop to the ground and play dead, cover you head, stay on your stomach [and] do not make noise. If the bear rolls you over, roll back on your stomach."

More bear safety information is available on the WildSmart website.

Kananaskis bear closure at Picklejar

Mist Ridge trail between the Mist Ridge trail and Lantern Creek north of Highway 40 has been closed until further notice. The closure does not include Mist Creek trail or Mist Ridge trail. (wildsmart.ca)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said there was a bear and cubs, but there was only one cub with the mother bear.
    Sep 08, 2014 10:35 PM MT