Couple killed in grizzly bear attack in Banff National Park, Canada

A snow-covered road leads up a hill at dusk in Banff National Park near Lake Louise, Alberta, December 2, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo Obtaining licensing rights

TORONTO, Oct. 1 (Reuters) – A grizzly bear attacked and killed two people and their dog in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canadian officials and a friend of the victims said.

Parks Canada said in a statement Saturday evening that it received a GPS alert late Friday indicating a bear attack in the Red Deer River Valley west of Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in Banff National Park.

The bear was later killed after it showed aggressive behavior, the agency said.

The victims were a Canadian couple and their dog, according to Kim Titchener, founder of Bear Safety and More and also a family friend.

Such encounters are increasing as more people head outdoors, but fatal attacks are extremely rare, said Titchener, who provides bear safety training and evaluation.

“That’s the real reason we’re seeing more attacks, is because more people are heading outside and unfortunately they’re not learning about this,” she said by phone, adding that only 14 percent of grizzly bear attacks worldwide result in deaths.

Bear sightings increase during the fall as they become more active foraging for food before hibernating in the colder months.

Banff National Park, which attracts more than four million tourists each year, is home to both grizzly and black bears.

Titchener noted that there are about 60 grizzly bears in Banff National Park, and they are considered endangered in Alberta.

Parks Canada said its rescue team had to travel by road overnight to the site because weather conditions at the time did not allow for the use of helicopters.

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The agency said that the response team arrived at the site during the early hours of Saturday, where they discovered two deceased people.

A closure for the area around Red Deer and Panther Valley has been implemented and will remain in place until further notice, Parks Canada said.

Parks Canada did not immediately respond to inquiries regarding the identification of the victims.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Toronto – Prepared by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Aurora Ellis and Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Nivedita Balu is a Toronto-based Reuters correspondent who reports on Canadian banking and financial services. She previously covered US technology, media and telecom companies and consumer and retail companies in Bengaluru. Contact: +13434016776

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