Many questions remain following fatal bear mauling

The necropsy on the grizzly bear that killed a Teslin woman in October doesn't provide many clear answers about why the animal acted the way it did.

The necropsy on the grizzly bear that killed a Teslin woman in October doesn’t provide many clear answers about why the animal acted the way it did.

Yesterday, officials with Environment Yukon and the Teslin Tlingit Council held a community meeting in Teslin to answer what questions they could and help a community still reeling from what happened.

Conservation officer Kirby Meister said staff couldn’t discuss too many details from Oct. 18, when the bear killed 42-year-old Claudia Huber. They need to wait for the coroner to finish her final report first.

Some details of the necropsy were released. Meister said the male grizzly was near the end of its life, likely at least 25 years old. But the “extensive work” done at the necropsy could find no evidence of any health issues or disease.

The results didn’t classify the bear as “starving” but it did appear to be “undernourished,” Meister said, with less body fat than is normal for that time of year.

Attendees were told there was evidence that the bear had prior exposure to human food, but no other details were provided, Meister said.

The bear had no previous encounters with conservation officers.

About 15 people attended the meeting, Meister said this morning. “It’s a very small community and a tragedy like this really hits home.”

Huber was killed when the adult male grizzly came onto her South Canol Road property near Johnson’s Crossing.

Huber’s husband left the home to calm their dog and saw a grizzly approaching. He returned to the house to get a rifle.

The grizzly entered the home through a window. Huber and her husband ran from the home and the grizzly followed.

The grizzly mauled Huber and was shot dead by her husband. He drove her to the Teslin medical centre, but she died.

Fatal bear attacks in the Yukon are rare. The last one happened in 2006.

The meeting lasted about three hours.

Attendees were given a rundown of the types of bears in the area, how to protect themselves from bear attacks and the emotions that come after a fatal attack.

Meister said most of the night was to allow people to ask questions.

Residents were assured that it is not uncommon to see bear prints in the snow this time of year. Bears can start denning anytime between September and mid December.

The community had a lot of questions about bear spray and how to use it, he said. As a result, conservation officers have decided to hold a public training session in the spring.

There were also discussions about having conservation officers make a presentation on bears in the local school.

That already happened once in May, but if the school wants to, it could happen again, Meister said.

The final word on what happened to Huber that day and why will be left to the coroner in her final report, Meister said.

He said it’s important not to speculate before that report is done.

There’s no word on when the coroner will release her report.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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