Yukon horror story: He kills bear, then finds family dead
Gjermund Roesholt was returning from checking his fur traps in Canada’s Yukon Territory last week when he found himself in the path of a charging grizzly bear. The confrontation was only the start of the horror for the Norwegian-born trapper.
His family — his partner, Valerie Theoret and their 10-month-old baby, Adele Roesholt — had spent the fall in the cold and sparsely populated region 500 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska, trapping furs around Einarson Lake.
They had purchased the trapline three years before, friends told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and planned to spend as much time in the beautiful, remote region as possible, living off the land. Spending time there was a balancing act because Theoret was also a sixth-grade French immersion teacher in Whitehorse, 250 miles away.
But then baby Adele came and Theoret went on maternity leave, giving the small family the opportunity to pursue their passion in the Canadian bush.
Roesholt, 37, operated a company called Wild Tracks, serving as a guide for people interested in hunting, fishing and trapping.
His Instagram page was something out of Field & Stream magazine. It showed him holding fish and selling wares at the Yukon fur market. He would trap the animals, and Theoret would fashion some of the furs into crafts: booties for children, mittens for adults, and heartshaped refrigerator magnets for whoever would buy them. In one photo snapped at the market, Roesholt has his arm around Theoret near a table full of furs for sale, a baby stroller nearby.
The dangers of their existence in a region inhabited by bears and wolves were obvious, but Roesholt and Theoret were experienced bush people, friends told news organizations. And Roesholt carried a gun.
When the bear charged Tuesday, the Yukon Coroner’s Office said in a news release, Roesholt was “forced to shoot the bear dead” less than a football field’s length from the family’s cabin.
He was almost home when he discovered the bodies. His partner and daughter had been mauled to death, apparently by the same grizzly.
Roesholt activated an emergency SPOT alarm, a beacon that people in remote areas use to alert authorities and loved ones when they encounter danger.
The investigators who arrived a short time later think the mother and daughter had gone out for a walk, the news release said. They probably encountered the bear, but couldn’t make it back to the cabin in time.
“It’s a big, big blow. Everybody is totally devastated right now,” Remy Beaupre, a friend who heard details about the incident from another friend who received the emergency message, told the CBC.