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Woman, 62, dies on northwestern Ontario island after evident bear attack, police say

Ontario Provincial Police say they were called on September 1, when the victim didn't return to her seasonal cottage when she went out to check on her dogs.

OPP say they were called September 1 when victim didn't return from checking on dogs

OPP say a 62-year-old woman is dead following an evident bear attack on an Island in Rainy Lake. (CBC)

A 62-year-old woman is dead after what Ontario Provincial Police say is a rare black bear attack.

Officers, along with local firefighters and paramedics, were called to Red Pine Island on Rainy Lake in northwestern Ontario around 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 1. The island is southwest of Sandpoint Island Provincial Park, near the Canada-United States border, about 320 kilometres west of Thunder Bay.

A woman called police and reported that her 62-year-old daughter was attacked by a bear when she went to check on her dogs, according to the OPP. Const. Jim Davis, the media relations officer for the Rainy River district OPP, said the complainant was worried when the 62-year-old didn't return to their seasonal cottage on the island but the dogs did.

First responders subsequently found the woman "in close vicinity to a bear and [she] was evidently deceased based on the observations made by the officers," police stated in a written release issued Tuesday. Davis added that the area was covered with underbrush.

Police added that officers shot and killed the large bear near the woman; two other bears, that Davis said police believed to be yearlings, were also nearby. Davis said the large bear was still acting aggressively and evidence suggested the bear attacked because it was hungry.

The OPP added that the incident took place on a secluded island with no other homes or cottages and that there is not a significant risk to public safety. Other people on the island were notified of the attack, police said.

The OPP are calling it a rarity... a fatal black bear attack in northern Ontario. We hear more about a woman who was killed over the long weekend. 4:13

A 'unique incident'

Davis said the OPP can't speak to exactly how common fatal black bear attacks are, adding that the province's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is more likely to have that kind of data, but "I know that I have never been involved, in my 10 years as a police officer, in this kind of occurrence."

"I think this is a ... unique incident," he said. "People just need to keep doing what they've been doing in terms of bear management in areas that have significant [bear] populations."

An autopsy still has to take place to determine the official cause of the woman's death, Davis said, adding that the victim's name was being withheld Tuesday until her family was properly notified.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said that fatal black bear attacks are "extremely rare," and that "our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim."

"The ministry is currently determining next steps and will seek OPP assistance as required."

Ministry officials said that people should call 911 or local police if a bear poses an immediate threat.