Grizzly bear shot and killed after woman fatally attacked

Wildlife officials said they shot and killed a Montana grizzly bear Friday that they believe pulled a California woman from her tent and killed her earlier this week in the middle of a small Montana town.

The bear was shot by federal wildlife workers wearing night vision goggles shortly after midnight, when it approached a trap set near a chicken coop about 2 miles from Ovando, where Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of Chico, California, was killed early Tuesday morning, said Greg Lemon with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The bear had raided the chicken coop overnight Wednesday, and officials set a baited trap nearby hoping to lure the animal back.

“Based on the size of the bear, the color of the bear and the nature of the chicken coop raids, we’re confident we’ve got the offending bear,” Lemon said.

On Thursday night, a woman in Ovando came home and “found her door ripped off” and noticed large claw marks, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles posted on Facebook. A short time later, the male grizzly bear was killed in the area.

Investigators gathered DNA evidence from the scene of the attack that killed Lokan and will compare it to samples gathered from the dead grizzly bear to be sure the bear that was killed was the one that attacked Lokan. The results could be available in the next three days.

Until then, Roselles said he would maintain the closure of outdoor campsites in Ovando.

Lokan was an experienced outdoorswoman and cyclist who was on a mountain biking trip. She and her party were camped by Ovando’s post office early Tuesday when she was attacked.

Friends said Lokan was a free spirit, competitive and adventuresome and was aware of the dangers she faced on the trip.

Lokan, who was traversing the scenic Great Divide Mountain Bike Route when she died, was an avid bicyclist. In 2015, she competed in the Mammoth National Championship Enduro and won the “Women’s Enduro 60+” category.

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

About 4:15 a.m., the sheriff’s office received a 911 call after two people in a tent near the victim’s were awakened by sounds of the attack, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles said. They discharged their bear spray, and the bear ran away.

Montana’s grizzly and human populations have both risen substantially since 1975, when the bears were protected under the Endangered Species Act, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker reported last year.