Valérie Théorêt, 37, and her daughter, 10-month-old Adele Roesholt, (not pictured) were killed by a grizzly bear on Nov. 26, 2018 at their cabin in the Einarson Lake area. (Facebook)

Bear that killed Yukon mother and baby was ‘emaciated,’ coroner says

Valérie Théorêt, 37, and her daughter, 10-month-old Adèle Roesholt, were killed in November 2018

It was a predatory attack by a starving bear that they wouldn’t have had time to react to.

That was the conclusion of the investigation into the deaths of Whitehorse teacher Valérie Théorêt, 37, and her daughter, 10-month-old Adèle Roesholt, who were killed by a grizzly bear near their remote cabin in northeastern Yukon last year.

READ MORE: Woman, 10-month-old child dead after bear attack in Yukon

“To say the victims were at the wrong place at the wrong time sounds trite, but our investigation shows that, more than anything else, this was an unfortunate tragedy and little could have been done to prevent it,” said Environment Yukon’s director of conservation officer services, Gordon Hitchcock, at a news conference on Wednesday.

According to the coroner’s report, Théorêt, her partner, Gjermund Roesholt, and their daughter had flown to their cabin on Einarson Lake, about 200 kilometres northeast of the village of Mayo, last October.

The family, who had extensive outdoor experience, had intended to live off the land and trap until the new year, when Théorêt was to begin teaching again.

The morning of Nov. 26, 2018, Gjermund left to check on one of the family’s traplines. It snowed lightly, and as he was coming back that afternoon, he noticed fresh bear tracks that were following his snowmobile tracks from that morning, heading towards the cabin.

Gjermund arrived at the cabin and noticed no other tracks around. No one was in the cabin, so he walked towards a sauna on the property, and then onto a small trail, calling his family’s names and carrying a loaded 7 mm Remington Magnum rifle.

Suddenly, he heard a growl, and a grizzly bear charged at him from out of the bush.

He fired two shots at it, and then another two after the bear dropped to the ground, fatally injured.

The bodies of his partner and baby were nearby, and he called for help.

READ MORE: 18 bears killed in the Yukon between April and July in 2018

The subsequent investigation found that the bear was an emaciated 18-year-old male grizzly that would not have been able to hibernate because its complete lack of body fat.

In its apparent desperation to avoid starving, it had eaten a porcupine – unusual prey for bears – and was likely in chronic and severe pain because of the quills in its face, paws and digestive system.

The bear appeared to have detected Théorêt, with Adèle in a carrier on her back, on a trail and had hidden under thick tree branches.

It was from there it launched its attack, and after killing the two, dragged their bodies off the trail. Théorêt’s injuries “were consistent with the bear striking out and biting her,” while Adèle’s “were instantly incompatible with life.”

Hitchcock and Yukon Chief Coroner Heather Jones said it happened so quickly that even if she had been carrying bear spray or a gun, Théorêt would not have had time to react or fight back.

“What makes this incident especially tragic is that the family took proper precautions to prevent something like this from happening,” Hitchcock said. The cabin and surrounding space were kept clean and free of attractants.

The report makes three recommendations, focusing on continued efforts to inform the public that bear encounters can happen in the Yukon anywhere and during any season.

There have only been two other fatal bear attacks in the Yukon over the last 22 years — one in Ross River in 2006, and in Kluane National Park in 1996.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Northwest Wave Riders return from Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

This was the first time in 25 years that northern B.C. teams competed

Feds approve $4M for Tahltan protected and conserved areas

Well defined stewardship will help nation reduce uncertainties for resource partners

BC Parks student rangers complete several northwest B.C. conservation projects

This was the first time the summer program operated out of Terrace

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Most Read