California woman victim of rare predatory grizzly attack

Jul 18, 2022, 2:57 AM | Updated: 4:14 pm

FILE - A bear trap set by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in the campi...

FILE - A bear trap set by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in the camping area in Ovando, Mont., where bicycle tourist Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, Calif., was pulled out of her tent and killed by a grizzly bear on July 6, 2021. An investigation found Lokan was the victim of a rare predatory attack by a food-conditioned bear that was likely attracted to food in and near her tent and scents left behind from recent picnics. (Tom Bauer/The Missoulian via AP, File)

(Tom Bauer/The Missoulian via AP, File)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A California woman who was fatally mauled by a grizzly bear in western Montana last summer was the victim of a rare predatory attack by a bear that had learned to seek out human food and was likely attracted scents near her tent and others left behind from recent Independence Day picnics, wildlife officials said.

Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of Chico, was pulled out of her tent and mauled in the pre-dawn hours of July 6, 2021 in the small town of Ovando, along the banks of the Blackfoot River, made famous by the movie “A River Runs Through It.” The town borders a huge expanse of forested land that is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies.

About an hour before the mauling, the bear had approached the tents of Lokan and a Texas couple who were camping behind a museum. They were able to scare the bear away.

Lokan, a retired nurse, told the couple that the bear “huffed at my head,” according to the incident report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s Board of Review. The report determined the grizzly was what is known as a “food-conditioned” bear, which means it had learned to find human food.

Lokan declined an offer to go sleep at a hotel where her sister and their friend were staying, investigators reported. The women were participating in a long-anticipated bike ride along the Great Divide Mountain Bike route.

After the first encounter, Lokan took some packaged snack foods and dry lentils out of her tent and retrieved a can of bear spray, the investigation found.

However, her toiletries — in two bags that had previously held dried blueberries and still smelled like berries — remained in the tent, investigators said. She had food stored in the saddle bags of her bicycle, about 10 feet (3 meters) away from her tent, the report said.

The Texas couple awakened just after 4 a.m. to noises that indicated Lokan was being attacked. The man yelled at the bear and deployed his pepper spray after seeing the bruin “pouncing up and down” on Lokan and her tent.

The 417-pound (189 kilogram) male grizzly bear broke her neck and severed her spine, an autopsy found, causing instantaneous death. A nearly empty can of bear spray that appeared to have been recently deployed was found under her tent, officials said.

The bear that mauled Lokan was shot thee days later while raiding a chicken coop near Ovando. DNA tests confirmed it was the same grizzly bear that also raided a different chicken coop in the hours after the mauling. The bear was 4 to 7 years old, investigators said.

“Not all bears exhibiting food-conditioned behavior exhibit predatory behavior. But for some unknown reason a predatory response was triggered in this bear,” the June 28 report said. “While foraging under the cover of darkness in Ovando, perhaps due to a simple movement made by the sleeping victim, or a certain sound made by the victim, the bear reacted and ended up taking the life of Ms. Lokan.”

Wildlife officials recommend that if a grizzly bear approaches an occupied tent, campers should seek shelter in a building or vehicle and should not return to the tent for the night, the report said.

The investigators also urged organizers of the Tour Divide bicycle race to inform participants that they are racing through grizzly and black bear country, educate them about proper food storage, encourage them to carry pepper spray and be observant.

Lokan’s family suggested bear spray manufacturers include a unique whistle in a bear spray trigger that could alert others as well as be an additional deterrent to bears, the report said.


Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI gestures while speaking at Un...

Associated Press

ChatGPT maker downplays fears they could leave Europe over AI rules

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Friday downplayed worries that the ChatGPT maker could exit the European Union

1 day ago

File - Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, left, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman arrive to the White House for a ...

Associated Press

Regulators take aim at AI to protect consumers and workers

As concerns grow over increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT, the nation’s financial watchdog says it’s working to ensure that companies follow the law when they’re using AI.

3 days ago

FILE - A security surveillance camera is seen near the Microsoft office building in Beijing, July 2...

Associated Press

Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers could be laying groundwork for disruption

State-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises, Microsoft said Wednesday.

4 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, May 17, 2023, in Washington....

Associated Press

White House unveils new efforts to guide federal research of AI

The White House on Tuesday announced new efforts to guide federally backed research on artificial intelligence

5 days ago

FILE - The Capitol stands in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED...

Associated Press

What it would mean for the economy if the US defaults on its debt

If the debt crisis roiling Washington were eventually to send the United States crashing into recession, America’s economy would hardly sink alone.

6 days ago

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, left, looks toward his attorney, public defender Anne Taylor, right, during...

Associated Press

Judge enters not guilty pleas for suspect in stabbing deaths of 4 University of Idaho students

A judge entered not guilty pleas Monday for a man charged in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students, setting the stage for a trial in which he could potentially face the death penalty.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

California woman victim of rare predatory grizzly attack