A woman was found dead outside her home bear Lillooet, B.C. Police say a bear is the likely culprit.
Credits: (SUN FILE)
CALGARY - Police and wildlife authorities are investigating a possible black bear attack after finding the remains of a missing First Nations elder behind her home near Lillooet, B.C.
The rarity of such an attack has alarmed conservation officials to the point that they've already begun hunting bruins matching eyewitness descriptions to ensure public safety.
The woman is believed to be in her 70s and possibly a well-respected member of the Xaxli'p First Nation - as identified to CTV - who had gone missing on June 25 near the small town located 170 km west of Kamloops, B.C.
Sgt. Cheryl Simpkin-Works of the Stl'atl'imx Tribal Police said the death is being treated as suspicious, for now.
"We don't believe it is. We do believe that it's possible that she was attacked by a black bear," she told QMI.
Simpkin-Works was investigating the woman's disappearance when she discovered blood and eye glasses just outside the woman's home.
A blood-soaked jacket covered in fur was found at the bottom of a steep embankment in an area thick with trees.
The woman's remains were found shortly thereafter, less than 30 metres from her home in a spot littered with what appear to be bear beds -- impressions in the matted grass left behind by sleeping bruins.
Simpkin-Works said the remains showed obvious signs that animals had fed upon her.
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday with dental records expected to provide positive identification.
Insp. Rod Olson of the B.C. Conservation Office Service said they can't be sure the woman was attacked or died of natural causes.
Given the likelihood bears fed upon the body, wildlife officials aren't taking any chances and have already begun hunting bears that exhibit matching colour patterns in that area.
Four bears have already been killed since Thursday, a measure Simpkin-Works said "will be ongoing" to "ensure the safety of the community."
Olson said samples have been sent to a lab in Edmonton for DNA testing.
"At that point they've certainly demonstrated a lack of fear for people," Olson said.
"We're doing it as a precaution."