Grizzly Bear Attacks, Kills Mother and Baby Daughter; Experts Say It’s Rare

November 29, 2018 Updated: November 29, 2018

Experts have weighed in after a grizzly bear killed a mother and her child in Yukon, Canada, saying such attacks are quite rare.

Valerie Théorêt, 37, and her 10-month-old daughter Adele Roesholt were found dead by Théorêt’s husband, Gjermund Roesholt, near Einarson Lake, said the Yukon Coroner’s Service.

Valerie Theoret was on maternity leave from her teaching job at Whitehorse Elementary School when the grizzly bear killed her and her daughter.

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He discovered the bodies of his wife and child outside after coming home from trapping in the area. About 500 feet from the family’s home, he shot and killed a grizzly bear that charged at him.

Mike Baldry with the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service said the last recorded fatal grizzly attack in British Columbia was about 15 years ago, Global News reported on Nov. 28.

“One bear near Kitimat was found consuming human remains recently, but it couldn’t be determined if the bear killed the person or not,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the United States, there have been eight recorded grizzly-related deaths in the past 11 years or so.

It’s only in extreme cases that grizzly bears turn predatory toward humans, as most attacks occur during surprise encounters. For example, a hiker might stumble across a mother bear and her cubs.

Chris Servheen, a professor with the University of Montana, said food stress in the late fall might lead adult males to delay hibernation. “A necropsy needs to be done to see if this particular bear was food-stressed, or had some sort of injury,” he told Global News.

“Maybe it had broken teeth or a broken jaw that prevented it from eating this summer,” he added.

More Details of the Attack

After the husband found their bodies, he made an emergency call to the closest village, Mayo, which is home to around 200 residents, reported the CBC. “It appears they had been out for a walk when the incident occurred, sometime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” the coroner’s news release noted.

“When a tragedy happens in a small community. All the community feels it, it’s a shock,” Isabelle Salesse, the executive director of the Association Franco-Yukonnaise, told CTV. The coroner, Heather Jones, said the family had been living in the area for about three months.

Einarson Lake is located more than 200 miles northeast of Whitehorse and is near the border of the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

“It’s a big, big blow. Everybody is totally devastated right now,” said friend Rémy Beaupre, according to the CBC. “Lots of our friends are gathering tonight to mourn a little bit and support each other a little bit,” he said.

Beaupre said the couple bought a remote trapline about three years ago, adding that they had quite a lot of experience in the outdoors.

“It was the plan all along to go there and spend a lot of time there, but Valerie couldn’t really take a lot of time off because she was a teacher,” he said. “They were, I’m 100 percent sure, well-prepared for anything that could have happened. But, you never know.”

Brian Melanson, a trapper in the area who knew the couple, said they were “competent bush people.”

The bear attack is “not from a lack of experience,” he added.

“It’s going to be devastating to the community because it’s going to hit home to everybody. You know, we go out there, all of us, we take our wives and our children, and we live out there,” he said to the CBC.

Video: Kodiak bear reacts to the camera