Montana Town of Grizzly Attack a Popular Stop for Cyclists

HELENA — A little western Montana city exactly where a grizzly bear pulled a woman from her tent and killed her this week welcomes guests calendar year-round to the mountain valley neighborhood together the banks of a river produced popular by the motion picture “A River Runs By means of It.”

They occur to Ovando to fish, hike, camp and float the river in the summer season and to snowmobile, cross nation ski or snow shoe in the winter season.

The hotter months also deliver bicyclists traversing the scenic Terrific Divide Mountain Bicycle Route, which this 12 months operates practically 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) from northern Montana to southern New Mexico.

A break in the extensive-anticipated journey on that route is what introduced Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of Chico, California, to the city on Monday for an overnight stay, her close friends explained.

She and her bash had been camped close to the town’s post office environment and museum when a grizzly bear pulled her out of her tent and killed her early Tuesday, officers stated. It was the next time the bear was at the campsite that night, they reported.

Wildlife officials expended Thursday hoping to come across and eliminate the somewhere around 400-pound (181-kilogram) bear, but arrived up empty for a 3rd straight day.

The sheriff closed the casual campsites close to city at the very least until Sunday and the city opened up a hearth station and church for cyclists to rest within. The city by now experienced an previous jail that experienced been transformed with some cots for campers, stated Kathleen Schoendoerfer, who owns the Blackfoot Angler fishing store with her husband, Travis Thurmond.

Ovando sees about 1,000 cyclists for every year who are touring the Great Divide route, Schoendoerfer estimated, with various quantities being right away.

The route loosely follows the Continental Divide, at instances zig-zagging about it on gravel streets, grime roads and trails and some solitary tracks, mentioned Dillon Vital, who works at Terrific Divide Cyclery in Helena. There are also some freeway miles.

The route is “absolutely gorgeous” by Montana, having riders more than mountain passes and by way of major, open up meadows, Key mentioned.

“A good deal of the cities on the route, little towns in the center of the mountains, are likely to be definitely welcoming to divide riders coming by,” Vital stated. “There’s a couple farms and ranches alongside the way that let riders to arrive stay with them. It’s form of a communal emotion to it. Everyone’s definitely welcoming.”

Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a healthcare facility in Chico, California, would have in good shape suitable in, said Mike Castaldo, president of the Chico Cycling Club.

“She experienced a definitely fantastic spirit. She often experienced a smile on her face. Usually lit up when she noticed you. Normally gave you a large hug,” claimed Castaldo, who realized Lokan for about 15 yrs. “But I think most of her identification was, you know, outside the house on the bicycle, experiencing the outdoors was her matter.”

She participated in mountain bike races and was a street bicycle owner and knowledgeable outdoorswoman.

“I consider she was competitive, but that was secondary to the journey or the journey she was on that certain day,” he reported Thursday.

Lokan had been wanting forward to the Montana bike excursion for months, mentioned Mary Bouquets, yet another good friend from Chico. Lokan had taken extensive-length bicycle visits and on this just one was accompanied by her sister and a mate, Flowers explained.

“She was conversing about her summertime plans — this wonderful wild adventure, riding her bicycle on, I really don’t know, a 400-mile excursion or a thing,” Bouquets explained. “A girl in her 60s, and she’s doing this type of stuff — she had a enthusiasm for existence that was out of the ordinary.”

One more friend remembered Lokan as a free of charge spirit with many mates.

“She always greeted you with a smile. She was one particular of these people today that was normally up for an experience and often made you to truly feel like you were being the heart of her consideration at all periods,” said Leesa Stefano, who satisfied Lokan when Stefano moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, in 2006 and obtained involved in a bicycling club to which Lokan belonged.

Stefano stated Lokan was the kind of man or woman who would uncover a way to test in with everybody at some issue to make certain mates realized they ended up nevertheless aspect of her lifestyle.

“We were all truly psyched for her, mainly because we know what it intended,” Stefano said about the bike ride. “We could not wait to hear the tales. It is regarded as an epic ride.”

Lokan and two other folks were camping when a bear startled them at 3 a.m. Tuesday before wandering off, Montana wildlife officials said. The bicyclists eliminated meals from their tents, stored it and went back to sleep, officers said.

About 4:15 a.m., the sheriff’s business been given a 911 call just after two folks in a tent in the vicinity of the victim’s had been woke up by seems of the attack, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles reported. They discharged their bear spray, and the bear ran away.

Lokan was “well versed in what she was undertaking. She understood the risks,” Castaldo explained, suggesting she may well have allow her guard down while tenting in a town, rather than alongside the path.

“The actuality that it was appropriate in city — which is really messed up,” Thurmond instructed the Missoulian.

People who camp in grizzly bear state — no matter if deep in the woods or in a designed campground — are recommended to continue to keep food and scented merchandise like toothpaste absent from their campsites at all times and to cook dinner somewhere else.

If a bear comes by a campsite, it is critical to keep on lookout for the animal to return, reported Greg Lemon, spokesperson for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Wildlife officers initially utilised helicopter flights to look for for the grizzly. They also set up significant traps — designed out of culverts and baited with roadkill — in and around Ovando. That incorporated traps in close proximity to a hen coop that the bear raided the evening Lokan was killed, as very well as in the vicinity of the campsite.

Investigators acquired DNA left by the bear in the attack and could examine it with any bruin they are ready to lure. Bear experts and video game wardens also had been stationed in the vicinity of the traps to shoot the animal if the possibility arises, claimed Greg Lemon, spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“Our best likelihood would be if the bear will come back and tries to get an additional chicken or some additional foodstuff all-around city,” Lemon explained.

The wardens really feel they could quickly detect the bear, which was recorded on a store’s surveillance digital camera in the minutes after its first take a look at to Lokan’s campsite, Lemon explained.

“If they noticed that bear at the trap and had a apparent shot at it, they could choose to do that.”