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Bear kills mountain biker at Panorama

‘Extremely rare’ behaviour for black bear

In an unusual case of animal behaviour, a black bear killed a female mountain biker at Panorama resort on Saturday, July 21.

“It was made conclusive by the pathologist that this bear actually caused her death. And there were no other mitigating factors that caused it,” said Paul Visentin, Conservation Officer for East Kootenay, Crankbrook after receiving the results of an autopsy on Tuesday morning.

The women’s body was found at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday by a Search and Rescue team after she was reported missing the previous evening. A 54-kilogram male black bear was also found aggressively guarding her body. An RCMP officer shot the bear before local Conservation Officers arrived on the scene.

Robyn Kochorek had gone mountain biking on Saturday at the Panorama Mountain Bike Park, a ski and mountain bike resort near Invermere, B.C. Her friends became alarmed when the 31-year-old Calgarian did not show up later that evening, and a search was launched.

“Poor Robyn was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I really don’t think there is anything that she could have done to prevent it, other than not have been at that spot at that time,” said Visentin.

Conservation Officers say it is still unclear why this particular black bear in southeastern B.C. acted so aggressively.

“That is the $6,400 question, why did this bear do that. When we did our investigation on site, we didn’t find any of the usual triggers that would prompt a bear to attack,” said Visentin.

“We looked for if there is a kill nearby, is it a mother and cubs, is the bear healthy, is it scrawny or old or why would it do this. And none of the normal situations that we look at came into play here,” he said.

Vinentin said this was just a bear that was predatory.

Black bear attacks on humans are infrequent. In fact, by 2006 there were only 56 documented killings of humans by black bears in North America in the previous 100 years.

“If you look at the population of bears across North America, and the amount of people that interact with bears on a daily basis throughout the spring, summer, fall, black bear attacks on humans are hugely rare,” said Visentin.