Last weekend, during routine tree planting along a remote area of northwest Alberta in Canada, a 26-year-old woman was killed by a black bear. The woman was working as a helicopter engineer and was the unfortunate target of a rare attack, according to The Guardian.
“She was evacuated by her co-worker on a helicopter and brought back to the Swan Hills airport where they met up with an ambulance, emergency crews, and she was subsequently declared deceased at the airport,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl Troy Savinkoff told the Canadian Press.
Witnesses say that the bear was an adult and were able to scare off the animal before radioing for help.
According to The Guardian, tree planters are used to “re-forest swaths of the taiga after logging operations” and often work “long hours in the boreal forest.” Because of the remoteness of the job, workers can come across a variety of different animals, including mountain lions, wolves and bears. While there is a healthy population of black bears in the region, fatal attacks are rare. In fact, since 1958, there have been only five other fatal black bear attacks in Alberta, according to The Guardian.
Trail cameras and traps have been setup in the area where the attack occurred and DNA samples were taken from the victim’s clothing in order for wildlife officials to correctly identify the bear. Three adult black bears have already been located and officials are waiting for DNA results to determine if one of them is the bear responsible for the fatal attack. If so, the bear will likely be killed “unless they can determine the attack was defensive.”