Who was Leah Lokan? California cyclist, 65, KILLED by Grizzly Bear trained to find 'human food'
According to a new report by wildlife officials, a California woman was fatally gored by a grizzly bear in Montana last year. The woman was the target of a relatively uncommon predatory attack by a bear that had been trained to seek out human food and was drawn to odors near her camp from recent Fourth of July picnics.
In the early morning hours of July 6, 2021, Leah Davis Lokan, of Chico, was pulled out of her tent and brutally attacked near the banks of the Blackfoot River. The bear had made its way to Lokan and a Texas couple's tents behind a museum an hour or so before the mauling. The enormous 400-pound bear was so close to her when she woke up that she could hear him huffing at her head, according to the couple.
The bear was driven away by the campers. With a can of bear spray in hand, Lokan relocated her food from her tent to a neighboring structure. An autopsy revealed that she was instantly killed when the bear returned to her tent an hour later and destroyed her neck and spine.
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee's executive body published a report earlier this month that said the bear that murdered her had acquired a predatory inclination. The grizzly had picked up the ability to hunt down human food.
Three days after mauling Lokan, the bear was killed when he broke into a chicken coop close to Ovando. According to DNA testing, a third chicken coop was also attacked by the same grizzly bear in the hours following the mauling. Investigators estimated the bear's age to be between 4 and 7.
The investigation report said, "Not all bears exhibiting food-conditioned behavior exhibit predatory behavior. But for some unknown reason, a predatory response was triggered in this bear. While foraging under the cover of darkness in Ovando, perhaps due to a simple movement made by the sleeping victim, or a certain sound made by the victim, the bear reacted and ended up taking the life of Ms Lokan."
While on a long bicycle tour, Lokan had stopped to camp in Orlando, a little hamlet in Western Montana. The Blackfoot River's banks are known for their scenic views and wilderness. A thousand grizzlies are thought to live in the area.
When the bear made two rounds past their campground, Lokan and two other bikers' hopes for calm seclusion were dashed. Investigators discovered that Lokan had turned down an invitation to spend the night at a hotel with her sister and an acquaintance. They were taking part in an eagerly awaited cycling excursion on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
The inquiry discovered that after the initial incident, Lokan recovered a can of bear spray, some packed snack items, and dry lentils from her tent. But according to detectives, her toiletries, which were still in two bags that had once contained dried blueberries and still reeked of them, were still inside the tent. According to the report, she had food stashed in her bicycle's saddlebags around 10 feet (3 meters) away from her tent.
Just after 4 am, sounds that suggested Lokan was being attacked awoke the Texas couple. When one of the pair noticed the bear "pouncing up and down" on Lokan and her tent, the guy shouted at it and shot it with pepper spray.
According to an autopsy, the male grizzly bear's 417-pound (189 kilograms) weight shattered her neck and broke her spine, instantly killing her. Under her tent, authorities discovered an almost empty container of bear spray that looked to have only recently been used.
According to the story, wildlife authorities advise campers not to spend the night in their tents because grizzly bears visit the ones that are occupied at night. Instead, travelers should seek refuge in a house or vehicle.
The investigators also demanded that the Tour Divide bike race's organizers warn competitors that they are riding through bear and grizzly bear territory, teach them how to store food safely, and advise them to bring pepper spray and stay alert.
The investigative report stated that Lokan's family recommended bear spray producers incorporate a distinctive siren into a bear spray trigger, which might both notify people and serve as an extra deterrent to bears.
Who was Leah Davis Lokan?
Lokan was an enthusiastic biker who was traveling along the beautiful Great Divide Mountain Bike Route before she was slain. According to CBS News, she won the Women's Enduro 60+ division at the Mammoth National Championship Enduro in 2015. According to the Chico Enterprise-Record, she cycled for Women on Wheels, the Chico Cycling Team, and Chico Velo while volunteering.
According to Mike Castaldo, president of the Chico Cycling Club, who knew Lokan for 15 years, she had worked in a hospital in Chico and had a nice personality. "She always had a smile on her face. Always lit up when she saw you. Always gave you a big hug. But I think most of her identity was, you know, outside on the bike, enjoying the outdoors was her thing," Castaldo said.
According to her friend Mary Flowers, Lokan had been anticipating the bike journey to Montana for months. As per Flowers, Lokan had previously gone on lengthy bike journeys with her sister and a friend.
"She loved these kinds of adventures. A woman in her 60s, and she's doing this kind of stuff—she had a passion for life that was out of the ordinary," Flowers said.
Grizzly bears' spread in Montana
Over the past ten years, the legally protected creatures have spread into new regions, and so has the number of people residing in and visiting the region. Due to this, grizzly bears have come into increasing confrontation with people in the Northern Rockies.
Less than 100 people live in Ovando, which is located at the edge of the vast Bob Marshall wilderness and is about 60 miles northwest of Helena. The wilderness stretches to the Canadian border. A vast area of woods and mountains, including Glacier National Park, which spans into Canada and is home to approximately 1,000 grizzlies, can be found north of Ovando.