By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
A full-on search continued on Wednesday for a grizzly bear in Montana who dragged a 65-year-old woman out of her tent in the middle of the night and killed her.
But after two days of intensive search efforts, including the use of helicopters and infrared technology, the bear has escaped without a trace.
Terrifying details of the attack emerged on Wednesday when Montana wildlife authorities and law enforcement personnel discussed the events which led up to the fatal attack of Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, California.
According to the Powell County, Montana, Sheriff’s Office, three campers were spending the night in the town of Ovando, Montana, inside their tents outside of a local museum.
At approximately 3 a.m., a 400-pound male grizzly awakened the campers but ran away.
The campers removed food from their tents and secured it in an area designated for food storage before going back to bed.
A security camera at a local business a block away captured footage of the bear at 3:15 a.m.
Fifteen minutes later, two people in a tent were awakened by screams as the grizzly returned and pulled the victim out of her tent.
The campers sprayed the grizzly with bear spray, causing it to retreat.
At 4:14 a.m., the sheriff’s office received it first 911 call regarding the attack.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials said the bear at some point in the evening killed and ate several chickens after breaking into a chicken coop in the town.
That location, officials said, gives them the best opportunity to locate the grizzly.
“At this point, our best chance for catching this bear will be culvert traps set in the area near the chicken coop where the bear killed and ate several chickens,” said Randy Arnold, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional supervisor in Missoula.
DNA of the bear was acquired by wildlife personnel and will be used to compare it against any bear they are able to capture.
A spokesman for Fish, Wildlife, & Parks said if the bear is captured, it will be killed.
“This is just devastating,” Ray Francis, an Ovando resident, told The Associated Press. “This is a big biking community and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
A local store owner, Tiffanie Zavarelli, said the incident has “shaken the town.”
“We’re all in contact with one another and my husband and I want to let the community know that we care and that we’re here if they need anything at all,” she said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out the family and friends of the victim. Many thanks to the residents that assisted in the search and pulled together to support the first responders, the Powell County Sheriff’s Office and the Fish Wildlife and Parks as we worked to process the scene and conduct the searches,” a spokesperson from the Powell County Sheriff’s Office said.
All campsites in Ovando will be closed until Sunday.