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U of C professor perishes in bear attack northwest of RVC

The University of Calgary community is mourning the death of one of their professors, who was killed by a bear while hiking near Waiparous Village on the evening of May 4.

The University of Calgary community is mourning the death of one of their professors, who was killed by a bear while running in the trails near Waiparous Village on the evening of May 4.

According to a post on the U of C's website, 59-year-old U of C professor Dr. David Lertzman was the victim of a fatal bear attack in the Moss Trail area near Waiparous Village, just northwest of Rocky View County limits.

David was a friend to all, and a brother to many,” said Dr. Jim Dewald, the dean of the Haskayne School of Business, in a U of C statement. “David was a valued senior instructor who had worked with Haskayne since 2000, but truly he was so much more. He was our spiritual leader, our Indigenous connection and our sustainability hero.”

According to Dewald, Lertzman was an avid outdoorsman who loved hiking and led the business school's annual week-long wilderness retreat courses in the Rocky Mountains.

He took his call to leadership seriously, but met the challenge with unbridled energy and positivity, the U of C's statement read.

The Ghost Valley Community Facebook page also issued a post about the tragic incident on May 5.

With deep sadness, we share that a dear friend and neighbour was killed in a bear attack last evening along the Ghost-Waiparous trails,” the post stated. There are no words. Please be aware that bears are in the area and take all precautions.

At 11:57 p.m. on May 4, Cochrane RCMP received a report from the wife of a missing man who was overdue from his hike near the Moss Trail area, according to the detachment's press release. Mounties responded and enlisted the help of Calgary Police Service’s HAWCS helicopter unit and RCMP Police Dog Services.

At 2:14 a.m., the HAWCS helicopter spotted the missing man’s body adjacent to Waiparous Creek.

“We sent in our ground units who located the male about 15 minutes later,” said Cpl. Troy Savinkoff of the Cochrane RCMP.

Savinkoff said bear attacks are rare, but he has seen several of them during his tenure with the Cochrane RCMP.

“I’ve been in Cochrane for quite a while and I can think of a couple of instances like this,” Savinkoff said. “It’s not super common, I would say it’s a little more common in Kananaskis area itself. We’ve had a few of them over the years. We’ve had some close calls as well, with some aggressive animals and stuff, but not too many where it’s the cause of death.”

The Moss Trail area has been closed to foot traffic while the investigation proceeds.

“We offer our sincere condolences to the family and the community of Waiparous Creek,” Fish and Wildlife wrote in a statement.

To raise funds for a funeral and other expenses for Lertzman's family, a Go Fund Me page was set up for the professor in the days after his passing at bit.ly/3vQyoAJ

—With files from Tyler Klinkhammer/Cochrane Eagle