Suncor worker killed in bear attack was dragged from group
Published Thursday, May 8, 2014 2:04PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 8, 2014 10:51PM EDT
A Suncor employee killed by a bear at an Alberta oilsands site was with a group of co-workers when the animal attack occurred, a union official said Thursday.
CTV Calgary has confirmed the victim’s identity as Lorna Weafer.
The 36-year-old was an instrument technician who was doing electrical work near Fort McMurray when the bear attacked her Wednesday afternoon.
"It was ... seven people that were working in a group area and she was attacked by this bear out of that group and dragged off," Scott Doherty, a spokesman for Unifor, told The Canadian Press on Thursday.
"People tried to stop it and do everything they could. Obviously they are fairly horrified at what they saw and witnessed."
Doherty said the union does not believe the workers were carrying bear spray. Another union official told CP that the victim’s co-workers blasted air horns in an effort to scare the bear away, but that didn’t work.
A spokesperson for Alberta Fish and Wildlife told CTV Calgary that it doesn’t look like the bear was provoked. So far, officials are calling the attack predatory.
The RCMP said it killed an adult black bear in the area after the attack. Tests are being done to determine whether it was the same bear that attacked Weafer.
“This has been a very difficult and tragic time for the Suncor family,” company spokesperson Sneh Seetal told CTV. “Fort McMurray is an incredibly close-knit community.”
Doherty said there needs to be a full investigation into what happened.
Suncor said it’s working with Alberta wildlife officials to find out why the attack occured. The company also says it offers “bear safety awareness training” to its employees “on a regular basis.”
The union, however, says that training is not extensive.
This was the first time since 1991 that someone in Alberta was killed by a black bear. Experts say fatal bear attacks in North America are very rare.
Alberta Environment estimates there are more than 40,000 black bears in the province. They start to come out of winter hibernation at this time of the year.
In 2011, 145 bears were shot in Alberta to reduce the number of bears who were getting too close to populated areas, attracted by garbage.
With files from CTV Calgary and The Canadian Press