OPP investigates fatality as possible bear attack

by Steve Galea | July 22, 2020
stock photo of a black bear
Stock photo of a black bear

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are investigating what appears to be a fatal bear attack near Red Lake on July 20.

Members of the Red Lake & Ear Falls Detachment of the OPP, with the assistance of the Northwest Region Emergency Response Team, located a deceased 67-year-old Red Lake man who did not return home after setting out to pick blueberries that morning. When they located the man later that evening, they also encountered a bear in the vicinity, which they dispatched.

The incident occurred on Tuzyk Road, off Highway 105, between the Township of Ear Falls and the Municipality of Red Lake.

Investigation underway

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) was contacted shortly after and the animal was sent to University of Guelph for necropsy and other testing.

“The bear will be tested for rabies, along with a battery of tests on internal organs looking for abnormalities. Any external abnormalities would also be noted,” said MNRF Senior Media Relations Officer Jolanta Kowalski.

If the investigation concludes the incident was a fatal bear attack, it would be the 11th recorded fatal bear attack in Ontario. The 10th happened on September 1, 2019, when Catherine Sweatt-Mueller, 62, of Maple Plain, Minnesota was killed on Red Pine Island on Rainy Lake in northwestern Ontario.

Avoid human-bear encounters

“This is an incredibly tragic event and our hearts go out to the victim and his friends and family,” says Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Wildlife Biologist Dr. Keith Munro.

“Attacks by black bears on people are rare, but bears are powerful animals and human-bear encounters can be dangerous. If you’re out in bear country, make sure you know what to do to reduce the chance of an encounter and how to respond if one occurs. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Bear Wise website has valuable information to help keep you safe.”

The OPP is also reminding people to be aware of their surroundings in the outdoors and to call 911 or their local police if they encounter a bear that poses an immediate threat to public safety by exhibiting aggressive behaviour.

Chronology of fatal bear attacks in Ontario

• September 1, 2019, Catherine Sweatt-Mueller, 62, of Maple Plain, Minnesota was killed on Red Pine Island on Rainy Lake in northwestern Ontario.

• September 6, 2005, Jacqueline Perry, 30, was killed in a predatory attack at Missinaibi Lake Provincial Park north of Chapleau.

• June 14, 1992, Sebastien Lauzier, was a Timmins student working on a mineral exploration team off a remote bush road 12.4 kms north of Lake Abitibi when he was killed.

• October 11, 1991, a bear killed Toronto couple Raymond Jakubauskas, 32, and Carola Frehe, 48, camped on Bate’s island in Algonquin Provincial Park’s Opeongo Lake.

• May 13, 1978, again in Algonquin, another bear killed and partially ate three boys from Petawawa.

• October 1, 1968, Jack Ottertail was killed while on a walk near Atikokan.

• The only other documented bear killing in Ontario was in 1881, when a trapped bear killed pioneer John Dennison on the Green Lake portage, just north of Bate’s Island, before the area became a park.

Source: MNRF/Ontario OUT of DOORS files

For more information on bears in Ontario, click here

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Comments

  1. Ted Gorsline wrote: If you read my book "Man-eating Black Bears" Volume 1 - Eastern North America" Available on Amazon, you will find black beasr have killed a minimum of 14 people in Ontario and have tried hard but failed to kill a great many more.
  2. Phil wrote: Sad day! The MNR they do everything to protect the predators in the province! Cormorants, bears, wolves and coyotes! It is all money grab for them. They come up with a feeling that we have a special breed of wolf in the Algonquin Park. They cancel the bear hunt well we have an over abundance of bears, the cormorants are killing our lakes! All creatures need to be kept in check, an over abundance of anything is not good. At one time i was glad to see the MNR out there doing their job, now I ask myself, who they gonna harass some poor farm didn’t check his trap early enough when the coyotes been eating his sheep! True story!
  3. Edwin (Ted) Walter Gorsline wrote: Dear Phil, The so called special Algonquin wolf, Canis soupus, is just a feral dog.I have a photo taken 80 years ago from right in the center of the Algonquin wolf range. The skin is 7 feet six inches long. The wolf weighed about 150 pounds. I have accompanied trappers catching "Algonquin wolves. A big one weighs 60 pounds. The wolf, Canis lupus, is extinct in Algonquin Park and there is no such thing as an Algonquin wolf.
  4. Edwin (Ted) Walter Gorsline wrote: Addenda, Dear Phil, Now that Covid-19 is upon us there are many travel restrictions. A great many people from Toronto who wanted to attend the feral dog howling sessions in Algonquin Park won't be able to do so. Fortunately there is a solution. All they have to do is visit Hyde Park in Toronto where there are plenty of stray dogs to answer their calls. The ones in Algonquin Park and Hyde Park sound pretty much the same.
  5. Edwin (Ted) Walter Gorsline wrote: The Saskatchewan bear was pepper sprayed. It did not work. Now what?
  6. Norm Ferguson wrote: Hello, I do no think all bear attacks are made public. My wife and I were on the 30,000 Island Tour Boat out of Penetanguishene or Midland in about the period 1980-86. An older Doctor was sitting in front of us and he said that year a 2 year old had been killed in his or her own backyard in that town that spring. Also in 1980 or 81, a man who worked at Pioneer Chainsaw, Peterborough, ON, told me of two deaths by bears at dumps in the area on two separate occasions. In addition, I was told more recently that the man who was feeding his surplus bakery goods to the bears on The Bunny Trail near Waubamik, ON, was partially eaten by the bears after having a fall amongst them. I hope this story is wrong. He had pictures posted on a site with him walking in around 8 bears which are clearly visible. I own property nearby and even saw a bear by his home in 2012. So I am sceptical about bear death numbers but like to remain optimistic though always underlyingly scared in bear country. We had one lean on our trailer one morning (with us in it) and another one put claw marks on our cabin wall at a height of over 7 feet. This one was unseen. So I am tuned in about bear stories and very respectful as my wife and I spent 150 days in that bush. A trapper from North Bay told us back in 1980, that he never ever goes into the bush without a handgun.. Enough said. Your life is on the line in bear country whether you realize it or not. 6 times stronger than a man - large claws - try to deal with that with no adequate weapon like a shotgun with the right load. I had a real good close-up look at the bear outside my trailer window and the physical strength of his forearms and upper arms was memorable, He ran off, thank goodness. Norm
  7. Edwin (Ted) Walter Gorsline wrote: I think Norm Ferguson is right.. I have found at least 25 cases of people going alone on foot into bear country (not in boats on lakes or river) and disappearing forever. An adult male black bear finishes a human carcass in three days, Alot of energy goes into burying these stories.

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