Yukon hor­ror story: He kills bear, then finds fam­ily dead

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - PEOPLE & ARTS - By Cleve R. Woot­son Jr.

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.

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