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Whistler man may have been attacked by bear

Bear also confirmed in Lillooet-area death



A shortcut through the woods in the Bayshores neighbourhood in Whistler resulted in a bear attack last Wednesday, but unlike last Thursday's death in Lillooet, the male victim sustained non-life threatening injuries.

The incident took place in the early hours of June 27 as 34-year-old Jeffrey Almond walked home from a party to his house in Bayshores. Though his memory of the event is hazy, Almond and his doctor have pieced together the most likely scenario from his wounds.

"I took a shortcut through the woods to my house in Bayshores. I had my headphones on - not a smart move (because) we figure he probably hissed at me a couple of times to give me a warning not to keep going," said Almond. "But since I couldn't hear him I kept going and he hit me once over the top of my head, then he hit me again.

"I have a small fracture to my skull, a very small amount of bleeding in my brain, some scratches to my cheek, a bunch of claw marks behind my ear and the right palm of my hand has a gash about four inches long, and it cut the muscles in my palm - the muscles to my thumb are completely severed."

Doctors think the injury to Almond's hand took place when he tried to protect his face.

Another bear attack at a remote property near Lillooet resulted in the death of one elderly member of the Xaxli'p First Nation last week.

In turn, conservation officers killed four black bears whose fur matched samples found near the body in the days after Stl'atl'imx Tribal Police found the woman's remains June 30 near her house.

B.C. coroner Mark Coleman performed an autopsy Monday. On Tuesday he confirmed that 72-year-old Bernice Evelyn Adolph died as a result of a bear attack. Locals have said she was a "well-respected elder" in the First Nations community.

The B.C. Coroners Service used dental records to confirm Adolph's identity. After reviewing autopsy results, evidence from the scene and expertise and information provided by conservation officers, the coroner was able to confirm a bear attack as the cause of death.

As for why the conservation officer killed so many bears, they believe that the bears could have fed off Adoph's remains.

Sylvia Dolson of Whistler Get Bear Smart Society said black bears don't become more dangerous to people once they've tasted human flesh.

"That has not been my experience, and from what I know and understand I would have to say 'no' with some emphasis," she said when asked if bears are inclined to hunt human flesh once they've had a taste.

"There have been many occasions over the past few decades where bears have killed and eaten people and the bears have not been caught. One would think if they had a taste for blood, and they were going to continue eating people, that more people would be disappearing in that area. That doesn't happen. I think predatory instinct is something that kicks in when the opportunity presents itself and/or the bear is desperate for food. There aren't any bears in this corridor right now that are desperate for food."

Bear scratches were reportedly found on the outside of Adolph's house, and unsubstantiated claims have been reported from the community that she had recently complained about bears near her home.

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