Grizzly bear kills couple and their dog in Canadian national park

Grizzly bear attacks are rare but deadly (stock photo)  (MATHIEU BELANGER/Reuters/Corbis)
Grizzly bear attacks are rare but deadly (stock photo) (MATHIEU BELANGER/Reuters/Corbis)

A couple and their pet dog have been killed in a grizzly bear attack in Canada’s Banff National Park in Alberta.

Park Canada received a GPS alert on Friday evening indicating that a bear attack had taken place.

In an official statement, Park Canada said the rescue team had to travel by foot due to harsh weather that made it impossible to use helicopters at the time.

The rescue team located the deceased couple 24 hours later.

The man and woman were hiking on Friday evening in the Red Deer River Valley, west of Ya Ha Tinda Ranch, when they encountered the bear.

Natalie Fay, from Park Canada’s Banff field unit, said: “Weather conditions at the time did not allow for helicopter use, and the response team travelled through the night to the location by the ground."

"The response team arrived on-site at 1am and discovered two deceased individuals.”

“This is a tragic incident and Parks Canada wishes to express its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police assisted in transporting the bodies to Sundre, Alberta.

Officials have not identified the names of the couple yet.

A family member who spoke to CBS News said the long-term couple were experienced hikers who loved the outdoors.

They said in a statement: “They lived for being in the backcountry and were two of the most cautious people I know. They knew bear protocol and followed it to a tee.”

The deadly attack happened just weeks after a grizzly bear was euthanized for attacking a woman in Montana in west Yellowstone. Park Canada said a grizzly bear displaying aggressive behaviour was found in the area and was later euthanized.

The Banff National Park is believed to be home to 60 grizzly bears, with 691 living in Alberta.

Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare according to Reuters with only 14% resulting in death. However, human-bear interactions are on the rise, some ending in fatality.

In January, a polar bear attacked and killed a 24-year-old mother and her 1-year-old son in Wales, Alaska. In June, a black bear mauled to death Steven Jackson, 66, in Arizona.

Following the attack, the area around Red Deer and Panther Valley remains closed.