Report Makes Disturbing Find on Grizzly Attack

Leah Lokan died instantly of broken neck, severed spine in rare predatory attack
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2022 9:34 AM CDT
Grizzly Treated Doomed Cyclist as Prey: Report
A bear trap set by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks on July 7, 2021, in the camping area in Ovando, Mont., where Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, Calif., was pulled out of her tent and killed by a grizzly bear on July 6, 2021.   (Tom Bauer/The Missoulian via AP, File)

A woman fatally mauled in Montana last summer was the victim of a rare predatory attack by a grizzly bear that had learned to seek out human food, according to a new report. Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, Calif., was participating in a long-distance bike trip when she stopped to camp in the small town of Ovando on the banks of the Blackfoot River. A grizzly approached in the early hours of July 6, 2021, but Lokan and a Texas couple who were camping nearby managed to scare it away, per PA Media. Lokan told the couple the bear "huffed at my head." But the 65-year-old declined an offer to sleep at a nearby hotel and, after removing food from her tent, retrieved a can of bear spray and went back to sleep.

Shortly after, the 417-pound male grizzly returned and attacked Lokan, who died instantly of a broken neck and severed spine, per the Washington Post. "Not all bears exhibiting food-conditioned behavior exhibit predatory behavior. But for some unknown reason a predatory response was triggered in this bear," reads the June 28 report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee's Board of Review, per the AP. It notes the bear, 4 to 7 years old, might have been enticed by lingering scents from July Fourth picnics. However, Lokan's two bags of toiletries had previously held dried blueberries. There was also beef jerky, trail mix, granola bars, and a baked potato in the saddlebags of her bike, just 10 feet from her tent.

"Perhaps due to a simple movement made by the sleeping victim, or a certain sound made by the victim, the bear reacted," according to the report. The grizzly, which afterward attacked a chicken coop, was killed three days later. Investigators say campers shouldn't return to a tent that has been visited by a grizzly and should instead seek shelter in a building or vehicle. Lokan's family has also suggested that manufacturers add a whistle to a bear spray trigger to serve as an additional deterrent, but also to alert others to a potential attack. A nearly empty can of bear spray was found beneath Lokan's tent. By the time Joe and Kim Cole of Texas heard sounds of an attack, it was too late for the cyclist. (More bear attack stories.)

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