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Details emerging in fatal Ovando grizzly bear attack

Fatal Ovando Grizzly Bear Attack
Ovando Fatal Grizzly Bear Attack Map
Posted at 3:30 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 13:25:28-04

MISSOULA — State wildlife officials are releasing more information about an early Tuesday morning grizzly bear attack that claimed the life of a woman who was camping in Ovando.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) reports that the bear has not been found following a two-day search from the air and on the ground.

FWP bear specialists and wardens are continuing to monitor culvert traps set in the area.

The search included the use of infrared technology from Two Bear Air Rescue but FWP reports efforts to find the bear are now focusing on traps near Ovando.

The grizzly bear entered Ovando Monday morning and went to an area near the post office at about 3 a.m. where the victim was sleeping in a tent, according to a news release.

Another couple in her party were sleeping in a tent nearby.

The bear initially woke the campers but then ran away. The three campers removed food from their tents, secured it, and went back to bed.

The bear was captured by a video camera at a business less than a block away at about 3:15 a.m.

FWP notes at about 3:30 a.m. the two people in the tent next to the victim were awakened by sounds of the attack.

They left the tent and sprayed the bear with bear spray. It has not been seen since.

The bear pulled the victim -- who has been identified as 65-year-old Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, California -- from the tent during the fatal attack.

Wildlife officials say at some point during the night the bear also got into a chicken coop in town, killing and eating several chickens.

While the initial search for the bear was unsuccessful, FWP wardens and bear specialists will continue to monitor the area closely.

“At this point, our best chance for catching this bear will be culvert traps set in the area near the chicken coop where the bear killed and ate several chickens,” said Missoula FWP regional supervisor Randy Arnold.

FWP bear experts believe the bear was an approximately 400-pound male, judging by behavior and footprints.

DNA from the bear was collected at the scene of the attack and will be analyzed.

Should a bear be caught in a trap, DNA can quickly be compared to the DNA already collected to determine if it is the same animal.

Anyone who spots a grizzly bear near Ovando should call the FWP Missoula office at (406) 542-5500.

The Powell County Sheriff's Office says campsites in Ovando have been closed until Sunday and people in the area are being urged to be cautious since the bear has not been located.