A couple and their dog have been killed by a grizzly bear in Canada’s Banff National Park, despite sending out a distress signal.
The hikers tried to alert park rangers to the attack via a GPS device, but the specialist team was unable to reach the couple in time after bad weather grounded their rescue helicopter.
Natalie Fay, a Parks Canada spokesman, said the team responded immediately to the alert but were forced to travel on foot through the night to reach the remote location.
Rescuers eventually arrived on the scene at 1am on Saturday, several hours after the attack took place, to find the bodies of the couple and their dog.
The bear, which was still behaving aggressively, was destroyed for public safety.
A family member of the deceased told CBC that the couple, who have not been named, “were long-term partners who loved the outdoors and were inseparable”.
“They lived for being in the backcountry and were two of the most cautious people I know. They knew bear protocol and followed it to a tee.”
Bear attacks are rare in North America, with only 14 per cent resulting in fatalities, according to Kim Titchener, a wildlife expert.
“Often when people have encounters with grizzlies, usually the grizzly goes one direction and the people go in the other,” Ms Titchener said.
“So we rarely do see cases where we actually have everyone involved killed. They could have surprised a bear at close range and had an encounter that led to a defensive attack.”
According to Jay Honeyman, a biologist, bears are currently stocking up food for the winter.
“They become protective of the food source, and if they feel like you are a potential threat to take that food source away, they may act in an aggressive manner,” he said.