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Couple and dog killed by bear at Banff National Park

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Two people are dead after a bear attack in Alberta's Banff National Park.

Parks Canada received an alert indicating a bear attack from a GPS device in the Red Deer River Valley around 8 p.m. Friday.

Due to poor weather conditions, a response team was forced to travel by foot to the site. When they arrived around 1 a.m., they found a man and a woman who had been killed.

CTV News Calgary has confirmed the pair were a husband and wife. Their dog was also killed.

A family friend said the couple were experienced backcountry campers.

"These are people who were great humans, great adventurers, spent a lot of time in the outdoors and in the backcountry [and] had a lot of expertise," said Kim Titchener. "They were doing what they love with the person that they loved.

"And it's just a very tragic and unfortunately rare thing that happened."

A grizzly bear displaying aggressive behaviour was found in the area and was euthanized by Parks Canada for public safety reasons.

The area of the attack was closed as a precaution.

'GET YOURSELF PREPARED'

Titchener, founder of Bear Safety and More, said bear attacks aren't common and less than 15 per cent of people attacked by a grizzly die.

However, she said it's important for people to be prepared for an encounter if there is one.

Bears will be out for the next few months, and anyone spending time outdoors should be aware. First aid kits and knowledge, bear spray and a GPS are all important tools in case of an attack, Titchener said. 

Bear safety courses and wilderness first aid training can also help, she added.

"I know this feels very, very scary and I know a lot of people are going to not want to go outside or not want to go outdoors," Titchener said. "It is not a call to be fearful, [it's] a call to get yourself prepared."

Sunday, a spokesperson from Alberta Forestry and Parks sent a statement to CTV News.

"This is a tragic incident, and the Alberta government sends condolences to the loved ones of the victims.

"During the fall, bears are preparing for hibernation and the risk of surprise wildlife encounters increases. Bears are focused on drinking and eating as much as possible, making them less alert and less aware of their surroundings.

"Surprise encounters can be extremely dangerous for both bears and humans.

"Albertans planning to recreate in bear country over the coming weeks should take precautions:

  • Expect wildlife encounters. The chance of encountering bears and other wildlife on popular trails and in remote areas is currently high.
  • Travel in groups and make lots of noise, especially when recreating in areas with waterfalls or flowing water. The sound of the water can mask noise, increasing the risk of surprise encounters.
  • Watch for fresh bear signs like diggings, droppings, tracks and carcasses. If the signs look like they were made recently, quickly and calmly leave the area.
  • Avoid areas with typical bear food sources. These include berry patches, grain fields, garbage pits, beehives and anywhere you see an animal carcass.
  • Make sure someone knows your plans. Before your trip, leave names, trip plans and date of return with friends or family.
  • Carry bear spray, have it easily accessible and know how to use it. Do not carry it in your backpack."

With files from The Canadian Press

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