Bear en­counter: ‘I’m not dy­ing to­day’

Teen who lost mom to griz­zly has run-in with one her­self

StarMetro Edmonton - - News -

The daugh­ter of an Al­berta woman who died in a griz­zly bear at­tack in 2005 says she now has a bet­ter sense of how her mom felt in the mo­ments be­fore she died thanks to her own run-in with a no­to­ri­ous bear.

Ear­lier this sum­mer, Lea McCroy was out for a run near Can­more, a pic­turesque moun­tain town about 100 kilo­me­tres west of Cal­gary, when she heard a crash­ing sound in the woods.

“I see part of this griz­zly bear, just stand­ing there huff­ing and puff­ing,” the 17-yearold re­called in an in­ter­view.

McCroy was told by of­fi­cials it was likely Bear 148, a sixand-a-half year old fe­male griz­zly that was in the area at the time. The bear was re­lo­cated a week later to an area north of Jasper Na­tional Park af­ter sev­eral other close calls with peo­ple in the Can­more area.

McCroy said she looked at the bear from a cou­ple me­tres away for a sec­ond, then pan­icked and ran.

“I was just so scared,” she said. “I thought that was go­ing to be it: ’What are the chances that this is go­ing to hap­pen to me, too? I’m not dy­ing to­day. I’m not dy­ing to­day.’”

Her fears were rooted in the death of her mom, Is­abelle Dube.

Dube was out jog­ging with friends near a Can­more golf course on June 5, 2005, when a griz­zly bear at­tacked. She climbed a tree and her friends ran for help, but Dube didn’t sur­vive.

McCroy, who was five years old then, said she’s learned a lot about bear safety since her mom died but ad­mit­ted she didn’t fol­low any of those rules when she came face-to­face with a griz­zly bear.

“I did all the wrong things,” she said, not­ing she was out for a run on her own, left her bear spray in the car and ran away when she saw the bear.

Since the in­ci­dent, how­ever, she has changed her be­hav­iour and thought a lot about her mom.

“I was think­ing, in some ways, that this was what my mom was think­ing,” said McCroy. “I was think­ing maybe I was weak. The bear wasn’t even do­ing any­thing and I was run­ning away and be­ing fran­tic while my mom stood her ground and fought for her life.”

She has also thought a lot about Bear 148, which was re­lo­cated out of her home range to Kakwa Wild­land Provin­cial Park.

“I want to pro­tect the bears, I don’t want peo­ple to hurt them, I don’t want them to die be­cause of hu­mans,” she said. “There’s ob­vi­ously ter­ri­to­rial bears up there. I hope she can stand her ground and live her life.”

i was think­ing, in some ways, that this was what my mom was think­ing. lea McCroy

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