Grizzly Bear That Killed Mother and Child Outside Remote Cabin Was Injured: Coroner

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 28, 2019Canada
Grizzly Bear That Killed Mother and Child Outside Remote Cabin Was Injured: Coroner
A grizzly bear roams through the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, on May 18, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart/File Photo)

A grizzly bear that killed a mother and infant outside a remote cabin in Canada in November 2018 was emaciated and injured, a coroner said.

Valérie Théorêt, 37, a French teacher, and her 10-month-old daughter, Adele Roesholt, were mauled to death near their cabin in the Yukon Territory on Nov. 26.

Théorêt’s husband Gjermund Roesholt, a trapper, was charged by the bear later that day and shot it dead. As he approached the cabin, he found the bodies of his wife and young daughter.

According to the Yukon Coroner’s Service, the bear was suffering from a lack of food at the time of its death.

The bear “was emaciated and would not have been capable of hibernation given its complete lack of body fat,” the coroner wrote in a recently released report (pdf).

“Further, given the scarcity of quality food during late November, it seems unlikely that the bear would have been capable of acquiring sufficient body fat to survive the winter.”

Besides being hungry, the bear “may have also been in significant and chronic pain due to multiple porcupine quills penetrating its digestive system from mouth to stomach,” the coroner wrote. The bear also had a large injury on its abdomen, which appeared to have occurred in the weeks prior to its death and was partially healed.

The bear was an 18-year-old male.

Investigators found that the bear followed a fresh snowmobile trail and encountered Valérie Théorêt and her child walking along the trail.

“The bear became aware of something moving towards it on the trail (it may or may not have known it was a human) and moved into a position of advantage under the cover of thick spruce tree branches near the trail from which it attacked Valérie and Adéle,” the coroner said. “Both Valérie and Adéle received fatal injuries and were dragged off the trail by the bear.”

The bear stayed near the bodies until it heard Gjermund Roesholt approaching and charged him.

Roesholt shot the bear from a distance of 2 meters with a 7 mm Remington Magnum rifle.

The deaths of the mother and child were ruled as caused by a grizzly bear attack and classified as accidental.

Investigators said that the bear “was acting entirely predatory in nature” throughout the attacks.

After the attack, experts said similar attacks were rare.

Mike Baldry with the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service said the last recorded fatal grizzly attack in British Columbia was about 15 years ago, Global News reported on Nov. 28.

“One bear near Kitimat was found consuming human remains recently, but it couldn’t be determined if the bear killed the person or not,” he said.

Only in extreme cases do grizzly bears turn predatory toward humans. Most attacks occur during surprise encounters, such as a hiker stumbling across a mother bear and her cubs.

Chris Servheen, a professor with the University of Montana, said food stress in the late fall might lead adult males to delay hibernation. “A necropsy needs to be done to see if this particular bear was food-stressed, or had some sort of injury,” he suggested at the time.

“Maybe it had broken teeth or a broken jaw that prevented it from eating this summer.”

Teacher, Mother, and Friend

Colleagues and friends were mourning the deaths of Théorêt and her daughter.

“It was devastating. I just, I just couldn’t believe it at first,” Verena Koenig, a friend of Théorêt, told CTV.

“She was so full of love and amazing,” Koenig said. “She was so happy to have a baby and being a mom.”

She described her friend and Roesholt as “experienced bush people” and said they’d been trapping in the area for the past three years. Authorities said they’d been there for about three months before the attack.

One commenter on Yukon News said that her daughter and son were taught by Théorêt. “She was [a] very nice teacher,” Goldy Brar wrote.

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