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Killer bear

Teenager mauled to death: bear killed

Lynn Lau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jun 04/01) - A local family is in mourning after a weekend camping expedition ended in tragedy Saturday.

Kyle Harry, 18, of Yellowknife was mauled to death by a black bear about one kilometre east of the Prosperous Lake Boat Launch.

It was the region's first fatal attack by a black bear in recorded history, according to Resources, Wildlife, and Economic Development officials.

Harry, originally from Aklavik, was a Grade 11 student at Sir John Franklin high school and was planning on becoming a social worker like his mother, said Valerie Stefansson, Harry's aunt in Inuvik.

"He was an outdoors person," Stefansson said. "He liked being on the land and being outdoors. It's tragic because he was such a good young man. He liked to help people."

According to the RCMP, Harry and a 14-year-old girl had been camping with four friends Friday night. The pair stayed behind when their friends returned to Yellowknife Saturday morning.

At around noon Saturday, Harry and the 14-year-old saw a black bear about 30 meters from their campsite. They immediately began collecting their gear and food to place into their tent. When they went to leave the tent, they saw that the bear had closed in to about three or four meters of their site.

As the pair attempted to leave the area, Harry was caught. He called to his friend to go for help. The girl managed to flee to the Ingraham Trail and summon help. She was taken to hospital by emergency crews, where she was treated and released for minor scrapes and bruises she sustained in her escape.

Shortly after 1 p.m. emergency crews began their search for Harry, however were hampered by dense brush, said Sgt. Alan McCambridge of the Yellowknife RCMP at a news conference Sunday.

McCambridge said the pair did not have access to a vehicle at the time, nor was there any sign of defensive equipment like a bear banger, a portable noise maker designed to scare bears away.

A search helicopter arrived around 2:30 p.m. and swept over the area, as 40 emergency response personnel and volunteer firefighters conducted a ground search.

Road blocks were set up on the Ingraham Trail to warn people against hiking or biking near Prosperous Lake.

In a truck parked nearby, anxious family members waited for news. By 5 p.m., the victim's body had been found about 200 meters from the campsite.

The search and rescue crew came across the bear in the immediate vicinity of the body, said McCambridge.

"We had to shoot at the animal. The animal fled and we believe it is wounded" in the upper chest with a single shot from an M16 with a point 223 calibre round, normally used for police, not wildlife duty."

RWED officials reported they had killed a bear this morning. It was being examined to determine whether it was the animal that attacked Harry.

Percy Kinney, NWT Chief Coroner, said because the cause of death was evident at the scene no autopsy would be required.

Kinney said the body was released to the family Saturday evening.