Tragedy in the Yukon

November 30, 2018

We were deeply saddened to hear the tragedy of a woman and her 10-month-old baby killed in the Yukon by a grizzly bear. The incident is currently under investigation with the help of the RCMP and Yukon Department of the Environment.

Valé​rie Thé​orêt and her daughter Adele were found deceased outside their cabin along a trapline in the Yukon, and RCMP “suspect the cause was a grizzly attack”.

Though not a witness to an attack, husband and father Gjermund Roesholt was charged by a grizzly bear nearby to the family cabin, where he shot and killed the bear, and discovered the bodies.

This is a tragic incident, and we offer our deepest condolences to Mr. Roesholt, to their family and to their friends.

We can only comment on what we currently know, as this is incident is under investigation with the help of the RCMP and Yukon Department of the Environment.

Fatal attacks by grizzly bears are rare and unusual. Grizzly bears are omnivorous and their diet can vary widely. They typically eat berries, seeds, roots, grasses, fungi, and insects, and they scavenge from time to time. Predation of fish, small rodents, and occasionally ungulates is a small part of their annual diet.

Thousands of safe human-bear interactions by hunters, hikers, tourists and nature lovers occur in Canada each year. Since 1970, there have been 21 fatalities from grizzly bear attacks in Canada. While rare, there was a fatality in the Yukon in 2006 involving a resource worker and a defensive mother with cubs and recently a hunter was killed in the Northwest Territories in 2014, while field dressing a moose. The last death due to a grizzly bear in British Columbia was in 2005 while a resource worker was walking alone and came upon a grizzly sow defending her cubs.

Without knowing more, we can only speculate about the cause of this incident, but negative human-bear interactions typically occur for one of three reasons:

  1. Food competition
  2. A surprise encounter
  3. In defense of cubs

The Grizzly  Bear Foundation is actively exploring opportunities to extend its education programs into the Yukon to further safety and coexistence.


Photo: Keith Williams

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