The Lake Louise campground in Alberta’s Banff National Park where a grizzly mauled several tourists 15 years ago had a warning sign at its entrance about a bear in the area, a Canadian court heard Tuesday (Sept. 14).
But Susan Olin, one of a half-dozen people attacked 15 years ago, testified she thought nothing of the notice which read “Bear in area, be careful,” the Calgary Sun reported.
Olin, who worked as a naturalist at Glacier National Park in Montana, at the time, testified the sign did not seem out of the ordinary.
“It did not strike me as unusual,” she told lawyer Mark Freeman, who represents two Australian tourists who are suing the federal government for their attack.
“Of course there were bears in the area,” said Olin, who reached an undisclosed settlement in a similar $62,000 lawsuit she filed over the incident.
“It’s bear country, there would be both black bears and grizzlies in the whole Rocky Mountain front,” she said.
“Bears are dangerous, of course you would be cautious — it was not remarkable to me,” Olin said of the signage.
Freeman’s clients, Andrew Brodie and Owen Hereford, are each seeking $75,000 for the injuries they suffered in the Sept. 25, 1995, mauling.
They claim federal officials were negligent in not doing more to warn campers in light of the fact there were other bear incidents in the days leading up to the attack.
Olin said the injuries she suffered had a long-lasting impact on her, eventually forcing her to leave her job in Montana.
“The event took over my life for six months, at least,” she said.
“I really could think of nothing else.”
She said she returned to work the following summer strolling the Glacier park trails and providing information to hikers, but couldn’t cope.
“I had nausea on the trail, I had vertigo on the trail, and about August it became impossible for me to continue doing that job.”
Meanwhile, under cross-examination by Department of Justice lawyer Barry Benkendorf, Hereford acknowledged he and Brodie took steps to learn of the dangers of bears in Canada’s national parks.
He and Brodie even discussed the possibility of a bear attack as they set up their tent at Lake Louise, he said.
“You understood that you might see a bear … and you understood that you might even encounter a bear,” Benkendorf said.
“I did,” Hereford replied.
The trial continues today.