Yukon Fur Trapper Kills Grizzly Suspected of Mauling Wife, Baby

The owner of a wildlife and hunting guide company killed a grizzly bear in the remote reaches of the Yukon Territory, only to find the grizzly had killed his wife and their 10-month-old baby on Monday.

On his return from a routine trapline visit, Gjermund Roesholt encountered a grizzly bear, who charged him, reported The New York Times. He killed the grizzly with his gun, but then discovered an awful sight outside the family cabin: the bodies of his wife, Valerie Theoret, 37, and their baby daughter, Adele Roesholt, 10 months old.

Canadian authorities said the two mostly likely were mauled by the same bear. It is not uncommon for residents to see bears, but it’s rare for a bear to kill a human – especially at a time when most bears are going into hibernation for winter.

The Yukon Department of Environment, overseeing the investigation, told the Times “it is not normal for the interactions to turn violent, let alone fatal.” In the past 20 years, bears have killed only three people in the territory.

Valerie Theoret was a school teacher on leave from Whitehorse Elementary School. She was a sixth-grade French immersion teacher.

“This tragedy weighs heavy on our hearts as a community and in times such as these, we will come together to honor her memory and support each other,” the Yukon Department of Education said in a statement to the Times.

The deaths, particularly involving a baby, have been especially hard on the residents of Whitehorse, where the family lived full time. Therapists and psychologists are available for counseling for grieving community members. Located 704 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska, Whitehorse has a population of 25,000.

Isabelle Salesse, Association Franco-Yukonnaise executive director, knew Valerie Theoret because of her French-speaking ties.

“Of course it’s a tragedy,” said Salesse. “That her baby was with her and died as well, it’s even worse.”

The territory’s Department of Environment investigates deaths caused by animals. The police do not suspect foul play.

However, the Royal Royal Canadian Mounted Police responded to the scene when Roesholt activated a satellite-connected emergency device because no cell phone service is available in the area. The Royal Canadian Mountain Police picked up the signal in Mayo, Yukon, located 130 miles west of Einarson Lake.

Accessible only by helicopter or plane, the isolated family cabin is located in the Yukon River Basin near the Northwest Territories border.

Roesholt and Theoret and their baby lived off the grid in the cabin on Einarson Lake for the past three months. They worked as fur trappers in the remote wooded area. Mostly, they hunted marten for its soft fur.

Join the Discussion