Aussies lose court case over grizzly attack

From the Calgary Sun — Two Aussie tourists mauled by a grizzly 15 years ago won’t be compensated by the federal government, a Calgary judge ruled Monday.

Justice Ged Hawco said Banff National Park personnel did nothing negligent in their handling of the bear problem leading up to the Sept. 25, 1995, attack on Andrew Brodie and Owen Hereford.

“In my respectful opinion, the warning signs were appropriate,” Hawco said in a written decision.

The Court of Queen’s Bench judge said there’s an inherent danger to anyone going to the mountain parks that they might encounter such wildlife.

“There is some risk to campers in any campsite in Banff National Park that they will encounter a bear,” Hawco said.

Hawco also said wardens took appropriate steps following two earlier incidents, including one which involved two bears mauling an empty tent in the same campground three days prior.

Lawyer Mark Freeman had argued park officials should have done more to ensure the safety of visitors in light of those incidents.

Freeman said the government was liable for the attacks because Hereford and Brodie weren’t told there had been grizzlies in that campground.

But Hawco said such a specific warning wasn’t necessary considering a bear expert testified there had never been a case of a grizzly attacking a tent which didn’t contain food, or garbage.

Hereford and Brodie took all the necessary precautions before setting up tent the night of Sept. 24, 1995, at a Lake Louise site after they couldn’t get into the local hostel.

Early the next morning, a grizzly ripped through their tent, mauling both men, who suffered serious wounds, but recovered.

“In this case, it was the considered view of the park wardens … that there was no foreseeable risk of injury to a camper so long as there was no food or garbage in the camper’s tent,” Hawco said.

He noted warnings were posted at the site entrance kiosk and each camper was warned about bear activity.

“The steps taken were reasonable in the circumstances,” he said.

Had they proven liability, Hawco would’ve awarded Brodie $40,000 and Hereford $30,000 for his injuries and $87,500 in lost income since he was delayed entering the workforce by six months.

Freeman said he’s yet to discuss a possible appeal with his clients.