California

Grizzly bear that killed camper had returned for her after she scared it off the first time

A California woman who was fatally mauled by a grizzly bear in Montana last summer was the victim of a rare predatory attack by a bear that had learned to seek out human food and was likely attracted scents near her tent and others left behind from recent Independence Day picnics, wildlife officials said in a new report. 

Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of Chico, was dragged out of her tent and mauled in the pre-dawn hours of July 6, 2021 in the small town of Ovando, along the banks of the Blackfoot River, made famous by the movie ‘A River Runs Through It.’ 

About an hour before the mauling, the bear had approached the tents where Lokan and a Texas couple were camping behind a museum. She awoke to the massive 417-pound bear so close to her that she heard when he ‘huffed’ at her head. 

The campers were able to scare the bear off. Lokan moved her food from her tent to a nearby building and armed herself with a can of bear spray. But she declined an offer to stay at a hotel and returned to her campsite. 

But about an hour later, the bear returned to her tent where he broke her neck and severed her spine, an autopsy found, causing her instantaneous death.

The bear that killed her had developed a ‘predatory instinct,’ according to a report released earlier this month by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s executive body. The ‘food-conditioned’ grizzly had learned to find human food. 

A remote camera captured an image of a grizzly next to a bear trap in Ovando, Montana on July 6, 2021, that is believed to be the bear that killed 65-year-old Leah Lokan earlier that day

Leah Lokan, 65, (pictured) was killed during a bear attack while camping in Ovando, Montana

Leah Lokan, 65, (pictured) was killed during a bear attack while camping in Ovando, Montana

Leah Lokan, 65, (pictured) was killed during a bear attack while camping in Ovando, Montana

The campsite behind the Brand Bar Museum in Ovando, Montana is pictured just hours after a 417-pound grizzly bear mauled 65-year-old camper and cyclist Leah Lokan to death

The campsite behind the Brand Bar Museum in Ovando, Montana is pictured just hours after a 417-pound grizzly bear mauled 65-year-old camper and cyclist Leah Lokan to death

The campsite behind the Brand Bar Museum in Ovando, Montana is pictured just hours after a 417-pound grizzly bear mauled 65-year-old camper and cyclist Leah Lokan to death

The bear that mauled Lokan was shot thee days later while raiding a chicken coop near Ovando. 

DNA tests confirmed it was the same grizzly bear that also raided a different chicken coop in the hours after the mauling. The bear was 4 to 7 years old, investigators said.

‘Not all bears exhibiting food-conditioned behavior exhibit predatory behavior. But for some unknown reason a predatory response was triggered in this bear,’ the June 28 report said. 

‘While foraging under the cover of darkness in Ovando, perhaps due to a simple movement made by the sleeping victim, or a certain sound made by the victim, the bear reacted and ended up taking the life of Ms. Lokan.’ 

Lokan, a retired nurse, told the couple that the bear ‘huffed at my head,’ according to the incident report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s Board of Review. 

She had been on a long-distance bicycling trip and stopped to camp in Ovando, a small town in Western Montana with a population of less than 70 residents. 

It’s known for its wilderness and scenic views along the banks of the Blackfoot River. The region is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies. 

The quiet solitude that Lokan and two fellow bicyclists were hoping to get was shattered when the grizzly made two stops through their campsite. 

The bear that mauled Lokan was shot thee days later while raiding a chicken coop nearby

The bear that mauled Lokan was shot thee days later while raiding a chicken coop nearby

The bear that mauled Lokan was shot thee days later while raiding a chicken coop nearby

Map of Ovando, Montana with locations of Brand Bar Museum, the fatality site behind the museum, Blackfoot Angler where the security video of the bear was taken, and the chicken coop incident on July 6

Map of Ovando, Montana with locations of Brand Bar Museum, the fatality site behind the museum, Blackfoot Angler where the security video of the bear was taken, and the chicken coop incident on July 6

Map of Ovando, Montana with locations of Brand Bar Museum, the fatality site behind the museum, Blackfoot Angler where the security video of the bear was taken, and the chicken coop incident on July 6

A rendering of the the area where Lokan was mauled to death in July 2021

A rendering of the the area where Lokan was mauled to death in July 2021

A rendering of the the area where Lokan was mauled to death in July 2021

Lokan had declined an offer to go sleep at a hotel where her sister and their friend were staying, investigators reported. 

The women were participating in a long-anticipated bike ride along the Great Divide Mountain Bike route.

After the first encounter, Lokan took some packaged snack foods and dry lentils out of her tent and retrieved a can of bear spray, the investigation found.

However, her toiletries – in two bags that had previously held dried blueberries and still smelled like berries – remained in the tent, investigators said. She had food stored in the saddle bags of her bicycle, about 10 feet (3 meters) away from her tent, the report said.

Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, had looked forward to the Montana bike trip for months, her friends and family said. She was killed in July 2021

Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, had looked forward to the Montana bike trip for months, her friends and family said. She was killed in July 2021

Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, had looked forward to the Montana bike trip for months, her friends and family said. She was killed in July 2021

A chicken coop that was destroyed by a grizzly bear in the early hours of July 6 approximately 215 yards from the attack site where Lokan was mauled to death

A chicken coop that was destroyed by a grizzly bear in the early hours of July 6 approximately 215 yards from the attack site where Lokan was mauled to death

A chicken coop that was destroyed by a grizzly bear in the early hours of July 6 approximately 215 yards from the attack site where Lokan was mauled to death

TIMELINE OF DEADLY 2021 BEAR ATTACK IN OVANDO, MONTANA 

July 5

7 p.m. – Campers Leah Lokan, Kim and Joe Cole set up tents in Ovando

Evening: Estimated time that grizzly bear attempted to break into trailer 3.9 miles west of Ovando

July 6

3:08 a.m. – Campers awakened by bear approaching tents. Lokan removes food from her tent, campers return to their tents 

3:26-3:30 a.m. – Lone grizzly bear captured on security camera in Ovando

4:05 a.m. – Joe Cole awoken by bear attacking Lokan

4:14 a.m. – Call to Powell County Dispatch

4:27 a.m. – EMS on scene

4:30-6:30 a.m. – Grizzly bear breaks into chicken coop on 213 Main St, approximately 215 yards from fatality site

11:30 a.m. – First Helicopter search. No bears found

8 p.m. – Second helicopter flight. A bear (likely grizzly) was observed from ground east of Ovando, but it ran into cover and was not seen again

9:19 p.m. – Grizzly bear was photographed on a game camera visiting area near chicken coop at 213 Main St. in Ovando

July 7 

5 a.m. – The bear management team patrolled town through the night. Third helicopter flight for thermal image search of Ovando area. No bears detected

July 8 

3 a.m. – The bear management team patrolled town through the night again and MFWP bear specialist Jamie Jonkel confirmed that a bear of unknown species killed a white-tailed deer fawn in a creek bottom below a bedroom window at a ranch 1.5 miles east of town

9:30 a.m. – Report of Chicken coop raided by grizzly bear 5 miles east of town. Traps set at site

July 9 

12 a.m. – Grizzly bear returned to the chicken coop from July 8. Bear was shot by WS agents

The Texas couple awakened just after 4 a.m. to noises that indicated Lokan was being attacked. 

The man yelled at the bear and deployed his pepper spray after seeing the bruin ‘pouncing up and down’ on Lokan and her tent.

The 417-pound (189 kilogram) male grizzly bear broke her neck and severed her spine, an autopsy found, causing instantaneous death. 

A nearly empty can of bear spray that appeared to have been recently deployed was found under her tent, officials said.

Wildlife officials recommend that if a grizzly bear approaches an occupied tent, campers should seek shelter in a building or vehicle and should not return to the tent for the night, the report said.

The investigators also urged organizers of the Tour Divide bicycle race to inform participants that they are racing through grizzly and black bear country, educate them about proper food storage, encourage them to carry pepper spray and be observant.

Lokan’s family suggested bear spray manufacturers include a unique whistle in a bear spray trigger that could alert others as well as be an additional deterrent to bears, the report said.

Lokan was an avid bicyclist who was traversing the scenic Great Divide Mountain Bike Route when she was killed. In 2015, she won the ‘Women’s Enduro 60+’ category in the Mammoth National Championship Enduro, CBS News reported. 

Lokan had worked at a hospital in Chico, ‘had a really good spirit,’ Mike Castaldo, president of the Chico Cycling Club said. 

‘She always had a smile on her face. Always lit up when she saw you. Always gave you a big hug,’ said Castaldo, who knew Lokan for about 15 years. 

‘But I think most of her identity was, you know, outside on the bike, enjoying the outdoors was her thing.’ 

Lokan had looked forward to the Montana bike trip for months, her friend Mary Flowers said.  

Lokan had taken previous long-distance bike trips and on this one was accompanied by her sister and a friend, Flowers said.

‘She loved these kind of adventures. A woman in her 60s, and she’s dong this kind of stuff — she had a passion for life that was out of the ordinary,’ Flowers said.

She rode for the Chico Cycling Team, Women on Wheels and spent time volunteering with Chico Velo, according to the Chico Enterprise-Record.  

Grizzly bears have run into increasing conflict with humans in the Northern Rockies over the past decade as the federally protected animals expanded into new areas and the number of people living and recreating in the region grew. 

That has spurred calls from elected officials in Montana and neighboring Wyoming and Idaho to lift protections so the animals could be hunted.

Still shot from video taken by security camera at the Blackfoot Angler’s. Image shows a grizzly bear walking in front of the Museum on July 6, 2021 at 3:26 am

Still shot from video taken by security camera at the Blackfoot Angler’s. Image shows a grizzly bear walking in front of the Museum on July 6, 2021 at 3:26 am

Still shot from video taken by security camera at the Blackfoot Angler’s. Image shows a grizzly bear walking in front of the Museum on July 6, 2021 at 3:26 am

Trailer with the door partly ripped off by a grizzly bear approximately 3.9 miles west of Ovando. The incident likely occurred the evening of July 5, according to the report

Trailer with the door partly ripped off by a grizzly bear approximately 3.9 miles west of Ovando. The incident likely occurred the evening of July 5, according to the report

Trailer with the door partly ripped off by a grizzly bear approximately 3.9 miles west of Ovando. The incident likely occurred the evening of July 5, according to the report

This April 26, 2006 file photo, shows Jacobsen Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Blackfoot River near Ovando

This April 26, 2006 file photo, shows Jacobsen Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Blackfoot River near Ovando

This April 26, 2006 file photo, shows Jacobsen Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Blackfoot River near Ovando

Ovando, about 60 miles northwest of Helena, is a community of fewer than 100 people at the edge of the sprawling Bob Marshall wilderness that extends to the border of Canada. 

North of Ovando lies an expanse of forests and mountains, including Glacier National Park that stretches to Canada and is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies. It’s the largest concentration of the bruins in the contiguous US.

Grizzly bear that killed camper had returned for her after she scared it off the first time Source link Grizzly bear that killed camper had returned for her after she scared it off the first time

Related Articles

Back to top button