By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates said information recently released on a fatal bear attack in Montana could help prevent death and injury in Wyoming and the region.
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) released a report detailing what occurred the night of the fatal attack on 65-year-old Leah Davis Lokan, of California, in July 2021. The attack took place in Ovando, Montana, a town with a population of fewer than 100 people.
According to the report, Lokan, her sister and some friends frightened a grizzly bear away from their campsite one night last July, before it returned just a short time later and fatally attacked her.
If it could happen there, it can happen here, Kristin Combs, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. She formed a program in Teton County to prevent bear and human encounters.
“This is why we started Jackson Hole Bear Solutions: to prevent situations like this from occurring,” Combs said Friday. “Bears that associate people with food lead to negative consequences for both bears and people. It’s up to us to change what we do because bears will always try to get their needs met in order to survive. We have to be the ones to do something differently.”
Jackson Hole Bear Solutions was launched earlier this year with a drive to provide everyone in Teton County with a bear-proof trash can.
According to the report, the 400-lb. male grizzly bear was attracted to food in Lokan and her friends’ campground area. Lokan had packaged food and dried lentils in her tent when the bear first came into the camp around 3 a.m. on July 6, 2021.
She removed the food after the bear was scared off and took a can of bear spray to bed.
About an hour later, Lokan’s campmates awoke and realized she was being attacked by a bear. She died from her injuries. The bear was tracked down and killed just days after the attack on Lokan.
The autopsy report found that Lokan was killed instantly, as the bear severed her spine and broke her neck.
DNA tests also showed the same four- to seven-year-old grizzly bear also raided a chicken coop hours after the attack.
Previous reporting by CBS said Lokan was an experienced outdoorswoman and cyclist who was on a mountain biking trip when she was killed in the small Montana town. The outlet also said that her fiends described Lokan as a free spirit, competitive and adventuresome who was aware of the dangers she faced on the trip.