Chico, CA

Officers slay bear that killed California woman after pulling her from tent

Josue Torres
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A grizzly bear that dragged a California woman from her tent and killed her this week was shot dead early Friday by wildlife authorities who were using night-vision goggles to stake up a chicken coop that the animal plundered near the tiny Montana hamlet where the lady was assaulted.

According to Greg Lemon of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the bear was shot soon after midnight when it approached a trap placed near the coop approximately 2 miles from Ovando, where 65-year-old Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, California, was murdered Tuesday.

According to Lemon, the bear had invaded the chicken coop overnight Wednesday, and authorities had placed a baited trap nearby in the hopes of luring the animal back. According to local officials, campgrounds in town will remain closed until DNA proof from the animal is obtained.

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They were sure they’ve got the offending bear based on the size of the bear, the color of the bear, and the nature of the chicken coop raids, he said.

Lemon said that traces discovered at the coop matched those seen near the deadly assault in Ovando.

The hamlet on the banks of the Blackfoot River, made famous by the film “A River Runs Through It,” has fewer than 100 residents and borders a vast area of wooded terrain that extends all the way to the Canadian border. 

There are an estimated 1,000 grizzlies in the area.

People are seldom attacked by bears, especially in populated areas, and Ovando businesses cater to adventurous visitors, including bikers like Lokan, who are permitted to pitch their tents in town.

Dona Aitken, an artist who lives approximately 7 miles east of town, believes the bear’s death will provide solace to the community. Aitken has seen grizzlies and evidence of them, such as droppings and footprints, but has not been disturbed by them.

Aitken said how everyone knows this was very unusual conduct to assault someone camping in a tent in town. 

She said that she doesn’t believe they have a solid explanation for why he did that.

Lemon added that investigators collected DNA evidence from the assault and would match it to samples recovered from the deceased grizzly, which was transported to a state wildlife laboratory in Bozeman for a necropsy. 

The findings may be available within three days.

Until then, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles has stated that outdoor campgrounds in Ovando would remain closed.

Lokan, a licensed nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, was a seasoned outdoorsman and biker on a mountain riding vacation. She was sleeping with two friends near the Ovando post office when she was assaulted.

The California woman was characterized by friends as a free spirit who was competitive and aware of the risks she faced on the journey.

Mike Castaldo, head of the Chico Cycling said she had wonderful energy. She usually had a cheerful expression on her face. When she saw you, her eyes would always light up. 

Shee always gave you a huge hug, said Team and a friend of Lokan’s for nearly 15 years. They believe the majority of her identity was, you know, being outside on the bike and appreciating the outdoors was her thing.

According to authorities, the 400-pound bear woke Lokan and her friends in an adjacent tent about 3 a.m. Tuesday. According to Montana wildlife authorities, when the bear fled, the campers took food from their tents, locked them, and went back to sleep.

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Wildlife authorities said the bear was spotted on a video camera about 15 minutes later at a business about a block distant from the post office.

The sheriff’s office got a 911 call about 4:15 a.m. after two individuals in a tent near the victim were woken by the sounds of the assault, according to Roselles. They sprayed bear spray on the animal, and it raced away.

The bear is also suspected of breaking into a chicken coop in town that night and killing and devouring numerous hens.

Authorities searched the bear for three days, employing helicopters and on-the-ground searchers, as well as putting up five huge traps constructed of steel culverts and baited with roadkill to entice the bear.

If the mauling was the result of a surprise encounter or the bear was protecting its young, bears who attack humans are not usually killed. However, the bear implicated in Lokan’s death was deemed a public safety danger.

A mother bear and her cub attacked and wounded a guy jogging on a path in neighboring Idaho on Friday. When the bear attacked him, he lay down to defend himself. According to Idaho wildlife authorities, the bear hit him three times before fleeing. His injuries were not life-threatening, and he was able to return to his cabin in time to dial 911. He was rushed to the hospital.

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