By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Montana wildlife officials shot and killed a grizzly bear early Friday morning that was believed to have dragged a woman from her tent in Montana earlier this week and killed her.
The bear was killed less than two miles from Ovando, a Montana town of fewer than 100 people and the place the woman was killed Tuesday morning.
“Last night, the Powell County Sheriff’s Office took a report from a resident who came home and found her door ripped off and large claw marks were present,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook Friday. “A short time later a male grizzly bear was killed in the area.”
The bear was killed after being caught raiding a chicken coop in an attack similar to one that occurred the night the woman was killed.
Given the proximity to Tuesday’s attack and the evidence found at the scene, Montana Fish, Wildlife &Parks officials believe the bear killed was the same one that attacked the woman, who was staying in a tent outside of an Ovando museum the night she was killed. However, offiicials said confirming DNA analysis will take a few days.
“Based on the size of the bear, the color of the bear and the nature of the chicken coop raids, we’re confident we’ve got the offending bear,” FWP spokesman Greg Lemon told CBS on Friday morning.
“We hope to make positive identification within the next couple of days,” Powell County officials said. “Early indications are that this is likely the bear that was involved in Tuesday’s attack.”
On the night the camper was killed, a chicken coop in the Ovando area was raided by the bear. Another coop was raided by a bear on Wednesday night, about 48 hours after the attack in Ovando. FWP specialists set a trap at a third coop on Thursday and USDA Wildlife Services specialists were monitoring the trap Thursday night when the bear approached and was shot.
Wildlife Services specialists were assisting at the request of FWP officials, anticipating the bear would return to the coop. They used night vision technology to aid in shooting the bear.
DNA samples from the bear will be compared to samples taken from the scene of the fatal attack Tuesday to confirm it was the responsible bear.
In the meantime, FWP staff will remain vigilant and keep at least one trap set near the first chicken coop that was raided on the outskirts of Ovando.
According to the Powell County, Montana, Sheriff’s Office, three campers were spending the night in their tents outside of an Ovando museum Tuesday.
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. While Lemon said this could have been a reason for the bear being interested in the victim’s tent, it was still unusual for it to be so aggressive.
A security camera at a 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. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to CBS, the victim was a 65-year-old Chico, California, resident named Leah Davis Lokan.
According to CBS, Lokan was an experienced outdoorswoman and cyclist who was on a mountain biking trip. She and her party were camped by Ovando’s post office early Tuesday when she was attacked.
Friends described Lokan as a free spirit, competitive and adventuresome who was aware of the dangers she faced on the trip.
Lemon told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that one of the wildlife specialists’ biggest concerns about the bear was its lack of fear of people and populated areas, not a common trait in wild animals.