Woman Killed by Black Bear While Staying at Family Cabin on Remote Island

A 62-year-old woman has died after an "extremely rare" attack by a black bear while staying in a family cabin on a secluded island in Canada, police say.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was staying at Red Pine Island on Rainy Lake, close to the U.S. border, neighboring Minnesota, at the time of the incident. Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) confirmed it received a call about the attack around 6:30 p.m. on September 1.

The call was made by the parents of the victim, from Minnesota, who said their daughter had not returned after going outside to check on her dogs. Authorities deployed from Fort Frances arrived at the wooded island by boat in about 30 minutes, the Star Tribune reported.

Police said the victim's body was found in "close vicinity" to a bear and, without elaborating, noted that she was "evidently deceased based on the observations made by the officers."

"It took them a while because there's a lot of underbrush and different trails," OPP Constable Jim Davis told the Star Tribune, describing the scene. He said the black bear had been found standing over the woman's body. It was shot dead by the responding officers. Police said there were two other bears spotted in the area that were deemed to be a threat.

Investigators said there was no major risk to public safety because the attack took place on a secluded island. All members of the public on the island were made aware of the attack.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Constable Davis said he believed the fatal attack to be rare. "I know that I have never been involved, in my 10 years as a police officer, in this kind of occurrence," he said, adding: "I think this is a... unique incident."

The fate of the additional two bears was not immediately clear. Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said it is currently determining the next steps. "Attacks of this nature are extremely rare and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim," it said.

black bear
A black bear rest in a mixed age forest that partially burned in 1988 on June 30, 2018 in Yellowstone National Park, WY. William Campbell/Corbis/Getty

The Canadian Wildlife Federation said black bears eat "almost anything available" but stresses that the majority of their diet is based on either plant material, fish or small mammals.

In a safety guide published online, the wildlife agency advised: "If the bear is approaching you, make yourself look bigger by yelling and waving your arms. If you are with a group of people, stay together. If the bear keeps getting closer use your bear spray or anything else you may have to distract or threaten the bear."

The CWF said that adult black bears males weigh about 135 kg, although some weighing over 290 kg have been recorded. Females are typically smaller than males, averaging 70 kg. Despite the name, some black bears have thick fur that is brown, dark brown, blond or cinnamon.