Overpopulation of grizzlies in area where mother, baby killed: Yukon hunter
Just days after the tragic death of a mother and her baby daughter in a remote part of the Yukon, a hunter and wilderness guide who lives nearby says there is an overpopulation of grizzly bears in the area.
Valérie Théorêt, Gjermund Roesholt and their 10-month-old daughter, Adele, had spent the past three months trapping in the fly-in-only patch of remote wilderness near Einarson Lake.
Gjermund told Mounties he'd been out trapping during the day. As he returned to his family cabin, he said, he was charged by a grizzly bear.
He was forced to shoot the bear dead, he told the Mayo RCMP. Then, as he approached the cabin, he found the bodies of his wife and daughter.
"If you think this is just a one-off, this is just the start. There's a plague of grizzly bears in British Columbia, a plague of grizzly bears in the Yukon," said Jim Shockey, who owns a cabin not far from where Valérie and Adele died.
Shockey blames strict hunting regulations in the areas. In the Yukon, hunters are permitted to kill a maximum one bear every three years.
While Shockey thinks the rules are to blame for the "plague," on its website, the territory says the population is spread "fairly thin" and that wildlife managers are working to reduce the number of bears that are killed to preserve them. http://www.env.gov.yk.ca/hunting-fishing-trapping/biggame.php
"The reproductive rate of the species is so low that the loss of a few female bears can have a significant impact on a population," it says.
Shockey, an experienced hunter, said there too many unknowns about the incident to know exactly what happened or why Valérie, in spite of her experience, was not able to react in a way that would have saved her and her daughter.
"If a grizzly bear wants to kill you, it doesn't matter how much experience you have. The grizzly bear is going to come very close to killing you," he said. "We're the softest thing out there and we're the easiest thing out there."
It's believed the pair was out for a walk when they were killed Monday, sometime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mounties said their deaths are being investigated as a "suspected bear attack."
Shockey said he was "horribly saddened" by the incident, adding that he's had his fair share of run-ins with the apex predators.
"We had one try to get into our cabin a few years back to kill a guide and we had to shoot it right one the porch of the cabin," he said.
"Their motivation is to kill and eat food and Valérie and Adele, for that bear, were considered for food… Grizzly bears kill human beings because they're hungry. It's really simple."
While not much is known about the family, Valérie is being remembered for her warm, cheerful personality. She was a French immersion teacher at Whitehorse Elementary School and was an active member of the Franco community.
“She was so full of love and amazing,” said Verena Koenig, a friend. “She was so happy to have a baby and being a mom.”
Mounties and the Yukon's Department of the Environment are assisting the coroner's service with the ongoing investigation.
With files from CTV Vancouver's David Molko