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By Amy Beth Hanson and Matthew Brown, AP

A grizzly bear that pulled a California woman from her tent and killed her this week was fatally shot early Friday by wildlife officials using night-vision goggles to stake out a chicken coop that the animal raided near the small Montana town where the woman was attacked.

Federal wildlife workers shot the bear shortly after midnight when it approached a trap set near the coop about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from Ovando, where 65-year-old Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, California, was killed Tuesday, said Greg Lemon with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The bear had raided the chicken coop overnight Wednesday, and officials set a baited trap nearby hoping to lure the animal back, Lemon said. Local authorities said campsites in town would stay closed until DNA evidence from the animal comes back.

“Based on the size of the bear, the color of the bear and the nature of the chicken coop raids, we’re confident we’ve got the offending bear,” he said.

A bear trap set by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks sets Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in the camping area in Ovando, Mont., where bicycle tourist Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, California, was pulled out of her tent and killed by a grizzly bear early Tuesday. (Tom Bauer/Missoulian via AP)

Lemon said tracks found at the coop also matched those near the fatal attack in Ovando.

The town along the banks of the Blackfoot River — made famous by the movie “A River Runs Through It” — has fewer than 100 people and borders a huge expanse of forested lands that stretches to the Canadian border. The region is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies.

Bear attacks on people are relatively rare, particularly in inhabited areas, and Ovando businesses cater to adventuresome tourists, including bicyclists like Lokan who are allowed to pitch their tents in town.

Dona Aitken, an artist who lives about 7 miles (11 kilometers) east of the town, said the bear’s death would bring relief to the community. Aitken sees grizzlies occasionally and signs of them such as droppings and tracks but hasn’t been bothered by them.

“Everybody recognizes this as really abnormal behavior to actually attack somebody sleeping in a tent in town,” she said. “I think we still don’t have a good answer for why he did that.”

Investigators gathered DNA evidence from the attack and will compare it to samples gathered from the dead grizzly, which was taken to a state wildlife laboratory in Bozeman for a necropsy, Lemon said. The results could be available in the next three days.

Until then, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles said he would maintain a closure on outdoor campsites in Ovando.

In this 2014 photo provided by Lori Mallory Eckhart, nurse Leah Davis Lokan poses for a photo at her office in Chico, Calif. Lokan was pulled from her tent and killed by a grizzly bear in Ovando, Mont., early on July 6, 2021. Wildlife officials say they shot and killed a bear early Friday, July 9, that they believe was responsible for Lokan’s death. (Lori Mallory Eckhart via AP)

Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, was an experienced outdoors enthusiast and cyclist who was on a mountain biking trip. She and two companions were camping behind the Ovando post office when she was attacked.

Friends described Lokan as a free spirit and competitive — and aware of the dangers she faced on the trip.

“She had a really good spirit. She always had a smile on her face. Always lit up when she saw you. Always gave you a big hug,” said Mike Castaldo, president of the Chico Cycling Team, who knew Lokan for about 15 years. “But I think most of her identity was, you know, outside on the bike, enjoying the outdoors was her thing.”

The estimated 400-pound (181 kilogram) bear awakened Lokan and her companions in a nearby tent about 3 a.m. Tuesday, officials said. After the bear ran away, the campers removed food from their tents, secured it and went back to sleep, Montana wildlife officials say.

About 15 minutes later, the bear was seen on a video camera at a business about a block away from the post office, wildlife officials said.

About 4:15 a.m., the sheriff’s office received a 911 call after two people in a tent near the victim’s were awakened by sounds of the attack, Roselles said. They used bear spray, and the animal ran away.

The bear is also believed to have entered a chicken coop in town that night, killing and eating several chickens.

Authorities hunted for the animal over three days, using helicopters and searchers on the ground and setting out five large traps made from steel culverts and baited with roadkill to attract the bear.

Bears that attack people are not always killed if the mauling resulted from a surprise encounter or the bear was defending its young. But the bear involved in Lokan’s death was considered a public safety threat.

In neighboring Idaho, a female bear with her cub attacked and injured a man running on a trail Friday. The bear charged him, and he laid down to try to protect himself. The grizzly struck him several times and ran off, Idaho wildlife officials said. His injuries weren’t life-threatening, and he was able to make it back to his cabin to call 911. He was taken to a hospital.

 

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89 COMMENTS

  1. I feel for the bear. But people have to come first. Nothing is more important than protecting people. It’s simple, brutal math. People are the top of the chain.

    I do not hunt bears. But I’m always armed in bear country.

        • “You calling the victim stupid?”

          If he isn’t, I damn sure am.

          Camping in grizzly country with fvcking FOOD in their tent does not demonstrate a superior intellect, ‘John’ :

          From the story :

          “The estimated 400-pound (181 kilogram) bear awakened Lokan and her companions in a nearby tent about 3 a.m. Tuesday, officials said. After the bear ran away, the campers removed food from their tents, secured it and went back to sleep, Montana wildlife officials say.”

          Either way, camping without a major caliber firearm in grizzly country is not an indication of membership in MENSA…

        • That is assuming the town allows campers to have firearms, I would not be surprised if they don’t.

        • “That is assuming the town allows campers to have firearms,…”

          Allows? 🙂

          That’s *Montana*, son. You don’t need to ask ‘permission’ to arm yourself while camping…

    • I understand your sentiment, but this was not a person. It was a Californian.

      One of the communist’s useful idiots invades a small town in our country, idealized by some stupid movie staring another one of the useful idiots, and ends up being eaten by a freedom-loving bear.

      This really is the kind of feel-good story Disney should be making children’s movies out of.

        • JWM, my locality is being overrun by people from the NE, Chiraq, Detroit and CA. I wish they were all like you but overwhelmingly they are liberal to the core and are horrified when they realize that someone they thought was a decent person (me) is actually a CONSERVATIVE GUN NUT.

          If you and others like you moved to red states we wouldn’t automatically assume all Californians are locusts. …unfortunately all the ones I’ve met so far are.

      • Fuck you, man. California is home to over 10% of the nation’s population. It’s pieces of shit like you who give the 2A community a bad name.

        • Mmmm .. no. Its people staying in CA that give the 2A community a bad name.

          Comply and blame others. That’ll help. There’s 50 states. You are free to move around. Stop making excuses.

        • That is why seversl red statee are turning purple. Running away rarely wins wars.

  2. “…was an experienced outdoors enthusiast…”
    “After the bear ran away, the campers removed food from their tents, secured it and went back to sleep”

    These two things definitely don’t jive up. Anyone with half a brain knows you NEVER store your food in the tent with you, ESPECIALLY in bear country!
    Sad though, drug out and mauled/eaten by a bear is one manner of death I don’t ever want to experience, not first or second hand.

    • Hell, I’ve never even been in “bear country” and even I know that. I’ve read enough to know all food needs to secured, cook and eat away from where you sleep, and wash your face and hands before going to bed.

      • Evidently in a sleeping bag inside of a tent…. a bear calls it a ” snack pack “. I like to have my Super Redhawk within reach whenever I think there might be bears within five miles, even then I’m tempted to avoid areas with known problem animals in them.

  3. I personally have properties in grizzly bear habitat, & I’ll tell you one thing for sure,,, DITCH the bear spray & buy a large caliber weapon & learn how to use it.
    I don’t know how many times in my area alone people have tried bear spray just to become victims of severe maulings or death.
    Nobody comes to my place without a weapon. If they do I usually have to supply one for them if they’re competent enough to use them.

      • I mean, it’ll work on dogs 99% of the time. Probably would work on mountain lions most of the time too (though never heard of anyone using it on one). It’ll work on bears too most of the time. Though most of those times were likely mock charges or just challenges and not serious attacks. I would NOT trust my life to just bear spray. But I would still carry it. Along with a firearm. The bear spray is for when the bear is within range of it and is acting threating. You use the bear spray with one hand while you have your firearm leveled with the other. Or your hiking/hunting partner uses the bear spray while you use two hands on the gun.

        My point is when in doubt, take the firearm route. But having options isn’t a bad thing. You are in their world. Humans first, but if you can reasonably spare the animal, do it.

  4. I bike and camp in grizzly country. I also carry a Ruger Alaskan 44mag, with bear loads. Obviously bear spray doesn’t work very well in a tent…but a pistol will…

    • If you’re in a tent with a bear its too late for non lethal. You have one chance to save your life. Better go all in.

    • ANY time you’re camping, bear country or no, you keep the food out of your tent. There are plenty of far less lethal critters that can wreak some real havoc trying to get to your goodie-bag. Even a hungry raccoon can destroy an expensive tent and is not something you want to wrestle with at 3am.

  5. Food in their tents? Absolute freaking morons! That’s an awful way to die, but it’s tough to feel much sympathy for her given how easily this could have been avoided. It’s like reading about someone who comes to Colorado in February, in a two wheel drive sedan, and then gets stranded in the mountains and freezes to death because they didn’t bring adequate cold weather clothing. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes

  6. The saying Loaded For Bear does have a meaning and a message to be prepared…With more than the bear spray sold to gullible tourists in shorts and flip-flops.

    A very real horrific tragedy. Condolences to her family and friends. Nothing for them will ever be the same.

  7. After everything I have ever read about bears, if I am ever in bear country I am thinking that a round the clock watch is in order. Bears can smell not just food but the remnants of it which means what? Don’t eat? There are traces of food on your person, the ground, the trash, etc. And sometimes they just wander because you know bear. Plus, there are other nasty critters in “bear country” that can wreck your life. Go in the woods, go armed.

    • DW,

      “After everything I have ever read about bears, if I am ever in bear country I am thinking that a round the clock watch is in order.”

      Meh, I am not convinced that is necessary if you store your food (and anything else which is aromatic and may be interesting to a bear–such as fruit scented/flavored lip balm) well away from your sleeping tent.

      If you are still concerned after storing all the aromatic stuff away from your sleeping tent, you could surround your tents with string and noisy items hanging from the string to alert you if a bear wanders into camp. Noisy items could be bells or glass bottles (which clang together). Or you could even use an audible alarm attached to the string.

      And, if all else fails, you could simply surround your tents with trip wires attached to claymore mines. Just make sure you aim the “front toward enemy” face away from your tents! (Yes, this last paragraph is sarcasm.)

  8. Rather than kill the bear, just think of it as evolution in action.

    She probably voted for President Harris and her Senile Sock Puppet Biden.

  9. As I have mentioned on this site before, I keep a .44 Magnum revolver (with 6-inch barrel) in my chest holster when I am in bear country. (Yes, I take it off when I go to sleep–although I keep in within reach of my blankets/sleeping bag.) And if I am primarily staying in a fixed camp, I often bring along a shotgun (with 18-inch barrel) loaded with slugs at the ready as well.

  10. I live in Upper SC and know jack nothing about Bears. Isn’t 400lbs kinda light for a Grizzly? There are Black Bears (racist) a little North of here toward the Smokies but that’s it. Was this a young bear or was something wrong with it?

    • You may not see them often, but there are likely a few black bears in your area. Hell, they have been known to wander into the northeastern part of the Atlanta Metro, thought that happens more when there has been a longer term drought.

      • “…likely a few black bears in your area…”

        To hell with that..I’ll start putting bucks aside for a Barret 107 20″. lol

    • Manse Jolly,

      Yes, 400 pounds is on the light side for grizzly bears. A healthy black bear can easily weigh 350 pounds and the largest black bears weigh-in over 600 pounds–although those 600 pounders must have a lot of fat (whereas a 600 pound grizzly is mostly muscle as far as I know).

      A 400 pound grizzly seems to either be a young bear or an old bear which is starving to death. In case it isn’t obvious, a starving grizzly bear would be MUCH more inclined to attack humans.

  11. What do you kit yourself with when you’re going grizzly hunting? Fidy-Beowulf tacticool ARs with NVGs and PEQ-15s? Or do people still prefer 45-70 levers?

    • Nutnfancy,

      I don’t know about the masses. I would use a lever-action rifle in .45-70 Government as you so aptly stated.

  12. Just a SWAG on my part is that the ladies figured that they were in town and food precautions were unnecessary.

    I have an electric bear fence when I raft on the Smith River and when rafting / camping in high-density bear areas. Usually, we place our ice chests, food totes, etc in a pile and surround that with the fence. My fence energizer will handle extra fencing…we, sometimes, surround the tents also.

    My handgun of choice hiking in grizz country is the 460 Rowland.

    Tourists sleeping in hammocks are referred to as “California-style Burritos”.

    • Old Guy in Montana,

      Ah, I think you are right: it would be easy to figure that you need not take food precautions for bears in town.

      As for your choice of a .460 Rowland revolver in grizzly country, I think that is an outstanding choice. Even though I am a .44 Magnum fanboy, .460 Rowland seems like it is probably more reliable (versus .44 Magnum) at promptly stopping a charging grizzly.

      The two reasons that I chose .44 Magnum over .460 Rowland:
      1) .44 Magnum factory ammunition is more ubiquitous and readily available.
      2) I had not heard of .460 Rowland when I purchased my .44 Magnum revolver.

      • @Uncommon_Sense

        FN FNH Tactical w/ Rowland conversion barrel and springs. 16 rounds of 250 gr hard cast @ 1300 fps, each with 960 ft lbs energy, carried in a Talon Retention (Made in Montana) chest rig. When car camping, my go-to is the KS7 with Brenneke Black Magic slugs.

        .44 Rem Mag is much easier to find than Rowland.

        Fortunately, I have not needed either (yet) to mitigate a bear threat.

        • Old Guy in Montana,

          “… 250 gr hard cast @ 1300 fps …”

          Yes sir, that is a fine recipe and you checked off all the right ingredients:
          1) huge bullet diameter (0.45 inches)
          2) hardcast for guaranteed penetration even through bone
          3) heavy-ish bullet (250 grains)
          4) respectable velocity (1300 fps)
          –and the cherry on top–
          5) more than adequate capacity (16 rounds)

  13. Never ever go wilderness camping without a GUD BOI by your side. A well trained guard dog gives you at least a chance to reach for that Mossberg 930 right by your side with 7+1 slugs ready to go. Or camp with a friend who runs slower.

    • That’s why I also carry a very sharp EDC knife with me around bears. If attacked by a bear, I’ll grab my trusty blade and deftly slit…. my buddy’s shoelaces. Then run like the wind !!!

      • …and here I thought that was what bear spray was for…slowing down your buddy and seasoning the bear’s dinner (note: all tourists visiting Montana should wear small silver bells to get the bear’s attention).

        • As Paul Harvey used to say…now for the Rest of the Story:

          The little silver bells should be micro-engraved with your PII (Personally Identifiable Information) – kinda like dog tags – in the event you have a bear “encounter” and the post-event investigators are sifting through bear scat and come across little silver bells they can positively identify the remains.

    • When I lived in Alaska it was generally believed that taking most dogs into bear country was a bad idea, especially off-leash. They have a way of going after bears they spot, pissing those bears off, and then running back to their master for protection when they realize they are in over their heads. They also bring the pissed off bear with them.

  14. Now that we’re talking guns, I can tell you when I’m at my place in MT. I pack a 460 S&W MAG, loaded with 454 Casull , I always have my KSG loaded with slugs & triple shot buck.
    Just strolling around the property I’ll Cary the shotgun & when I’m prospecting I’ll carry the 460. I’m very confident in my selection for defense.

  15. Perhaps the real comment “experienced outdoors enthusiast” know BEARS and Cougars will BOTH Kill you in their home! Her own arrogance was her undoing! To these creatures man is NOT to top of the food chain they are! Select few “man” are alfa predator’s or believe they are! Kinda like those special kind of stupid who want to pet sharks or alligators! I stopped feeling sorry for those long ago.

    • lol that’s cute. Good luck with your 45ACP and colt 1911 marble launcher against grizzlies. yeah yeah I know, ‘shot placement that matters’ so hopefully in a defensive situation you can get a couple rounds right into the bear’s eye.

    • Depends on the situation. This situation? Absolutely shoot to kill. If you some distance to use bear spray, use it. That .45 might just piss the bear off. The bear spray will deter it. Also, know where the wind is blowing. Like I said, situation dictates.

  16. Poor grizzly- killed it first, do testing later. No presumption of innocence…

    On the other hand- bears eating tent residents?

    Ought to release several hundred in San Fran and LA 3rd-world tent camps. Might change some attitudes and entice people to get a job. I’ve always thought a few lions, tigers and wolf packs in the inner cities might cut down nighttime gang activity, too.

    Use watcha got.

  17. Sad story. Sorry about the woman. But its just an example of cleaning the gene pool…she gets the Darwin Award

  18. Odd that the bear was aggressive enough to attack and kill a woman in her tent, but then was driven off by bear spray deployed by some nearby campers. I’ve always been told bear spray was useful for dealing with a curious bear, not a hungry (or otherwise “determined”) one.

    At any rate, may the woman RIP. What an awful way to go.

  19. I live in Northern Michigan, UP. We have plenty of black bears around here. Many are 200-400 pounds or more in the spring. Lots of females, in the spring let their cubs out of the winter den. I have been a few feet from a couple of them with cubs and do not want to repeat the experience. Very unpredictable and hungry. Cubs are very cute, and as unpredictable as the moms. I have read all of the sensational grizzly stories since the 1960’s. One was an experienced guide and hunter being stalked in the berry bushes by a large grizzly in Alaska. All he had was a Winchester 30-30. He survived and did not have to shoot the bear. Experience counted for him. Hanging your food from a tree, away from your shelter seems to work to protect your food. Tie it far enough above the bears reach, they can be quite tall when stretched out (grizzlies can reach 9 feet or be 9 ft. tall). Not leaving any trace of food or scent in the area will help. Bear spray and a high caliber rifle should be right next to you. 30’06 is not big enough as two hunters in Montana found out in a head-on encounter with a grizzly. Both died after shooting be bear several times. Bears have a lot of fat to get thru. Just be careful and wear the aforementioned bells to warn the bear of your presence. Your the intruder in the bears territory, not the bear. Enjoy your time in the outdoors and respect the wildlife.

    • Gary Sackman,

      “… 30’06 is not big enough …”

      Agree completely.

      I love the saying, “There is no replacement for displacement.” That means you need large diameter projectiles to stop large bears.

      And you also need guaranteed penetration. That requires heavy projectiles and strongly argues for hardcast lead bullets rather than soft/squishy bullets or slugs which mushroom/flatten on impact and then fail to penetrate adequately.

      The problem with something like .30-06 Springfield for large bears is that .30 caliber bullet just isn’t big enough nor heavy enough to reliably stop a charging bear in his/her tracks. Will it reliably kill large bears? Sure–and that might take 30 seconds or even a few minutes which is plenty of time for a charging bear to kill you before keeling over.

      Many/most firearm platforms will reliably kill large bears with anything close to good shot placement–which is fine if you can somehow guarantee that the bear runs away from you to die without mauling you. Of course, unless you are hunting from inside an armored car, there is virtually no way to guarantee that the bear does not maul you before expiring. As a result, the next best thing (to hunting from inside an armored car) which gives you the best odds of stopping a charging bear in his/her tracks is a firearm platform which shoots large and heavy bullets that will penetrate upwards of 36-inches through skin, fat, tough/strong connective tissue, and bone. Choose your bear-defense firearm platform wisely.

  20. The enviros have been pushing for years to get predators back into former territory. Not a single taxpayer dime should be paid in dealing with problem predators that are in ANY way related to reintroduction by human intervention.

    Wolves and grizzlies kill things. Including humans. If our tax dollars are spent reintroducing species we know with absolute certainty will eventually attack humans, then zero dollars need spent on eradicating that which we introduced. As we see said so often, safety is a personal responsibility. Going unarmed into the woods is a personal choice, and the repercussions of doing so are natural results after reintroducing predators.

  21. I always carry bear spray in Montana.
    Not the aerosol kind, Instead, I carry
    a 12 gauge with 3-inch shells and 000
    buckshot. That “bear spray” should
    offer our family some good protection.

  22. This is bullshit. They had no reason to kill the bear because some idit tourist from CA didn’t plan accordingly in bear country. Stay the fuck out of my state you fucking tourists.

    • A couple of years ago a handful of my hunting buddies and I were drinking beer and brainstorming around the campfire about our tourist problems. What we came up with was a win-win for Montana and tourists. We came up with Digital Explorations Montana – a full service, digital travel company. An out-of-State would-be visitor contacts a registered Montana recreation specialist regarding a virtual trip to the State. They fill out an on-line form detailing a full itinerary of where they would like to visit in the State. We wear full immersive 3D video headgear and record exactly where and what they specify with audio commentary available as an extra charge as well as appropriate musical accompaniment. They send us money and we send them awesome would-be full-immersion video memories. No risk of COVID transmission, much smaller carbon footprint, never have to leave their couch or Mother’s basement…and we don’t have to deal with the aggravating MF’rs in person. (check out the article in the Beacon on the overcrowding up the North Fork Road)

      • “awaiting moderation” for this comment…really guys?

        Your WordPress software is broken…seriously broken!

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