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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich police arrest suspect in arson spree near Camosun College Lansdowne campus

Calgary man in police custody waiting for a tele-bail hearing, constable says

VIDEO: Man breaks up Saanich road rage fight

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road

Saanich Peninsula Hospital to host new COVID-19 testing facilities

It is not clear yet when they will go into action

Three impaired drivers stopped in Saanich over one weekend

Drivers receive 90-day driving prohibition, month-long vehicle impound

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

Couple celebrates 61st anniversary through Vancouver Island seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ entertains home-bound kids in Cowichan Bay

Alora Killam, 16, played the part in musical two years ago

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Most Read