British Columbia

Killer black bear is dead, DNA tests confirm

DNA tests confirm that a black bear that killed a B.C. woman near her rural cabin last month was among several bears shot in the area after her body was found.
Conservation officers examine one of five bears destroyed after an elderly woman was killed near Lillooet. (CBC)

DNA tests have confirmed that a black bear that killed a B.C. woman near her rural cabin last month was among several bears shot in the area after her body was found.

Saliva found on the clothing of 72-year-old Bernice Evelyn Adolph matches a bear shot near her Lillooet, B.C., home July 9, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service announced Thursday.

Chief Insp. Lance Sundquist said the bear was a male between six and eight years old and weighed about 90 kilograms.

"It was in good condition... They did not observe any abnormalities or apparent health issues with the animal," Sundquist said.

A necropsy by conservation officers did not indicate what may have caused the animal to attack.

"Again, these incidents are very, very infrequent. At times bears do act in a predatory manner," Sundquist said.

Traps that were placed near the cabin to capture any other roaming bears have been removed.

Autopsy confirmed attack

Based on the scene, conservation officers suspected immediately that Adolph was the victim of a bear attack and five bears found in the area of the attack were shot.

An autopsy confirmed that the elder from the Xaxli'p First Nation was killed in a June 26 bear attack. Her body was found four days later by Mounties responding to a missing person report.

The "tragic accident" has raised the level of awareness in the public about bears, Sundquist said. 

Sundquist reiterated that people need to take proper precautions to reduce conflicts with wildlife, but he stressed that wasn't the case with Adolph.

"Our evidence from our investigation clearly showed that there were no attractant issues that were the cause of this," he said.

Weather a factor

"However, in many, many cases in British Columbia and a lot of the conflicts that we see are created by the fact that we are not managing our food attractants, garbage, barbecues, dog food and bird seed ... we're not managing them to the level that we need to in order to prevent these conflicts from occurring."

Sundquist said this summer's damp, cold weather has affected bear activity, and people should expect to see the animals in unexpected places as they follow food availability.

"Patterns a little bit different. Where you might find bears this year could be a little bit different than where you might have found them last year at this time of year," he said.

The community near Lillooet is dealing with the tragedy, he said, and conservation officers have kept residents informed about the investigation results.