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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

6:59 a.m. - No, not good. I don't like it

Yesterday, Isabelle Dubé was killed in Canmore, Alberta by a grizzly bear. It was on the news last night. As the words rang out in the beautiful green room and our attention was drawn by the words, "grizzly attack" I also felt a pang of, "I know that name". The comentator proceeded to fill us in that she was a world cup mountain biker and a wonderful picture of her muddy spreckledy face flashed on the screen. There was some fill-in about her family back in Quebec then pictures of a memorial service in the forests above Canmore - a group of about 20 hardened nutcases all in biking gear snivelling in the trees - a mixture of tears and the rain dripping off the ends of their noses. The atmosphere did her proud, mud at your memorial service. What more can any mountain biker ask for?

She was out running with some friends when the bear appeared about 20 m away from them. Her friends backed away and she climbed a tree. They heard her shouting at the bear and ran for help. By the time the ranger appeared Isabelle was dead. Some grizzlies climb trees, some don't. She was really unlucky.

The story begs a question of Canmore - development or bears? Which do you want? The bear that killed Isabelle is now also dead. It was relocated some time ago after it followed a woman photographer for 20 minutes. It had been fitted with a radio collar and had reappeared in the area (just knows where the good garbage can be found) but it was not considered a threat anymore. The beauty of 20-20 hindsight eh? As the size of our mountain "villages" expands into the bear's territory these kinds of interface issues will arrise more and more often. Saying that, it's obvious that Isabelle never thought twice about going running that day on the off-chance that she might die.

However, tourists travel to Canada every year in the hope of seeing a bear. Tours are offered across the country aimed specifically at seeing bears. I hope I never see a bear, although I have and it's wonderful - when you're in a car. I can't help thinking that bears becoming accustomed to humans being around and viewing them is a bad thing, especially when tourist resorts expand to gargantuan sizes to accomadate the tourist industry surrounding it. I thank god that people no longer pay to see de-clawed, chained bears on the street and in circuses, but really when the people die and the bears die - have we actually achieved anything?

Then I remembered that I used to race with Stephanie Dubé back in England. She moved from Ontario with her English hubby and turned up with a whole pile of whoop-ass for me for a couple of racing seasons - until she discovered the clean-side and turned to track racing. We talked a lot with Stephanie because Hubby was comforted by her Quebecois / Ontarian accent and she even knew of the house that he built back East - the exact house.

I looked Isabelle up on Google this morning, to see if I could find anything that referenced her relatives. A search for her yeilds a plethera of Extreme sporting events results from the Trans-Rocky mountain bike race to the Cause running race for human rights and the Bow Corridor Nordic Ski race. Although I never knew her, I admire her and hope above all hopes that she never had a sister called Stephanie but there's something deep down that makes me think Stephanie had talked about her mountain biking sister back in Canada. I just don't know if my brain is making that up.

Anonymous Silver Lining said...

Poor you. (((hugs)))  

Anonymous franchini said...

What an absolutely awful story - poor Isabelle. Her memorial service sounds perfect.  

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