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article imageCanadian camper sleeping outdoors is killed by Black Bear

By Marcus Hondro     May 12, 2015 in Environment
A 27-year-old Canadian man was killed by a black bear early Sunday, May 10 as he slept by his campfire. The tragedy happened in the early morning by the Parsnip River near Mackenzie, a logging and lumber town in east-central B.C.
Asleep by campfire
Daniel Ward Folland O’Connor, 27, who went by Ward, was camping with his fiancee, Jami Wallace. He decided to sleep outside by the campfire while his fiancee opted to sleep inside their motor-home. Upon awakening Sunday morning, Wallace went out to the campfire and did not find Ward.
She must have found clues around the campfire to cause her to believe something happened to Ward because she called RCMP. When they arrived they found a wolf nearby and shot and killed it, though it is unclear if they thought it was responsible for an attack on the missing man. The officers then spotted a large black bear and shot and killed it. They found Ward O'Connor's body nearby.
His grieving father, Danny O'Connor, told Metro News there were no indications a fight had taken place and that his son was probably killed very quickly. His boy loved the outdoors, he said.
“He loved being out in the middle of nowhere,” Ward's father told the newspaper. “He was a free spirit. He loved the freedom to run around nude, to be in the creek and to cook out over an open campfire."
Deaths by black bears
The death of the outdoorsman comes almost exactly a year after 36-year-old Lorna Weafer was killed by a black bear near Fort McMurray, Alberta. She was an employee of Suncor Energy and was on a job site at the time; the bear, later shot, came right onto the site and attacked her. Co-workers were unable to save her.
Black bear deaths are relatively rare in North America, despite the fact the continent has some one million black bears. Since 1963 in North America there has now been 41 fatal black bear attacks on humans.
Attacks appear to be on the rise as humans and the creatures come more frequently in contact; during the decade of 2001 to 2010 there were 15 fatal black bear attacks, the most on record for any decade.
Ward's father said that he takes some solace in knowing that his son died doing something that he loved. "I’m very proud of him," Danny O'Connor said. "And I’m going to miss him dearly."
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