By Frank Larue
The Xaxli’p First Nation recently lost one of their elders. On July 1st, Bernice Evelyn Adolph was mauled to death by a bear. She was 72-years-old and will be greatly missed. Chief Arthur Adolph said, “She was a very respected elder in our community. She had lots to teach. Members of our community called her aunt.”
Sergeant Cheryl Simpkins-Works of the Stl’atl’imx tribal police said that even though black bears are often seen within Band territory there have been few attacks in recent years. Authorities believe the bear responsible for Bernice Evelyn Adolph’s death has been killed. “Four bears have been destroyed, and the necropsies have taken place,” stated Simpkin-Works. “We do believe we have the suspected bear.”
BC conservation officer Rod Olsen says an average of 538 black bears and 37 grizzlies are killed every year in order to avoid attacks on humans. “This year our complaint indications across the province are lower, probably due to the wet spring, which has provided a lot of berry crop and grass that is still green at this time of year,” said Olsen. Sgt. Simpkin-Works confirmed that measures are taken to prevent such accidents, noting, “There are bear traps and snares in the area.” She also told the Vancouver Province that “the Stl’atl’imx is a very close knit community of families, so everyone has joined together and is working to get through this tragic situation.”
Bernice Evelyn Adolph had been missing for several days, when tribal police found her body just 300 metres from her home. She was very active for her age and was loved by all members of the Band. There have been only two fatal bear attacks since 2002, but neither one was in First Nations territory. In 2007, Robin Kochorek was killed at Panorama Mountain Village, and Christophe Bayduza died from wounds received from a bear while he was working at an oil rig in Fort Nelson in 2002.