By Colette Derworiz, Calgary Herald
Richard Cross was killed by a grizzly bear in Kananaskis Country on the weekend. Officials have decided against destroying the bear responsible for his death, ruling it a defensive attack.
Photograph by: Facebook photo , Calgary Herald
A grizzly bear that killed a sheep hunter in Kananaskis Country on the weekend will be left in the area with her cub, after it was ruled a defensive attack.
On the weekend, Calgarian Rick Cross was walking alone along the Picklejar Creek trail when he was attacked and killed by the bear.
“It was definitely a defensive attack, not a predatory one,” said Glenn Naylor, district conservation officer with Kananaskis Country. “That was the main decision-making factor, but we have to look at all of the evidence and all possible scenarios first.
“The evidence clearly points to the fact that he out of the blue encountered this situation and the chain of events that happened pretty quickly.”
Cross was hunting for big horn sheep Saturday, but didn’t return home that night as expected. His family reported him missing to police Sunday morning and a search began immediately.
Officers found his backpack and rifle Sunday, but had to call off the search as darkness fell and bears were still in the area. They found his remains not far from his belongings a day later.
Naylor said the evidence shows that the bear responded defensively, both because of its cub and a freshly killed deer carcass in the area.
“It attacked Mr. Cross and the result was tragic. He was killed,” he said. “After he was no longer a threat, the bear left him alone. He wasn’t touched again.”
That led biologists with both Alberta Parks and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to rule it a defensive attack.
“That was the conclusion that was arrived at by everyone,” he said, noting other options would have been to capture and relocate the bear, or destroy it.
Naylor said provincial officials have met with the Cross family about their decision to leave it alone.
“They were appreciative of all of our efforts,” he said. “They had no problem with the result.”
Kim Titchener, program director at Bow Valley WildSmart, said it’s the decision she expected.
“They have a great reputation for doing what’s right for wildlife and what’s right for public safety,” she said. “That bear isn’t a threat. She was doing what bears do.”
The Picklejar area will remain closed until the bear and her cub are finished feeding on the deer carcass.