Facebook Leah Davis Lokan was killed by a grizzly bear during a bicycling trip to Montana.
Leah Davis Lokan is the California woman who was killed by a grizzly bear during a long-distance bicycling trip to Montana. She was 65.
Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a news release the bear pulled Lokan out of her tent in the middle of the night on July 6, 2021. Lokan and two others had camped within the small town of Ovando near the post office, according to officials.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Bear Roamed Around Within the Town Limits Before Attacking Lokan in Her Tent, Officials Said
Search continues for grizzly bear that killed a woman in OvandoSearch continues for grizzly bear that killed a woman in Ovando2021-07-07T23:44:28Z
Lokan, along with her sister and another friend, camped in Ovando on the night she was killed, the Associated Press reported. Ovando is located in Powell County in western Montana, about 75 miles from the capital city of Helena.
According to officials with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department, the trio pitched their tents near the town’s post office. Lokan had her own tent. They woke up around 3 a.m. on July 6 after hearing the bear walking around nearby. Officials said Lokan and the two others “removed food from their tents, secured it, and went back to bed.”
Video surveillance footage from a nearby business showed the bear meandering about a block away from the post office at 3:15 a.m. Officials said around 3:30 a.m., Lokan’s sister and friend woke up again and heard “sounds of the attack.” They jumped out of their own tent and sprayed the animal with bear spray, which prompted it to run away.
But before they could use the bear spray, the grizzly had pulled Lokan out of her tent. Officials did not provide specifics about Lokan’s injuries. According to the Independent Record, the other campers called 911. Emergency responders from Ovando and Helmville rushed to the scene but could not revive Lokan.
Wildlife officials also said they had evidence the bear had been within the town limits for a significant amount of time. The bear had gotten into someone’s chicken coop and eaten several of the birds.
2. Wildlife Experts Will Kill the Bear if They Find It Because Its Behavior Was Not Normal
As of this writing, investigators had not located the grizzly bear. The Powell County Sheriff’s Office shared on social media that campsites in Ovando would be closed until Sunday, July 11, as a precautionary measure while officials search for the animal.
Sheriff Gavin Roselles told the Great Falls Tribune, “The area that we’re dealing with in Ovando presents challenges, both terrain-wise and for brush cover. There’s frankly a lot of places where a bear could hide.” The department is urging anyone in the area to be on alert until the bear is located.
Officials say they’ve also set traps near the chicken coop in case the bear returns to that area, according to KTVQ-TV. Wildlife officials said in the report that DNA evidence was collected at the scene of the attack. Officials will be able to use that DNA to determine the bear’s identity if they find it. The bear is believed to be a 400-pound male.
Greg Lemon, a spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the bear will be killed if officials find it because of the circumstances of the attack. He told the Independent Record, “This isn’t normal bear behavior, and it’s the kind we want to address right away.” He added, “Most of the time when we have grizzly-human encounters that result in injury, most of the time the bear is doing normal bear stuff — protecting food resources, protecting cubs or a surprise encounter. This doesn’t really apply in this situation, where somebody was camping at night. … So our response is different than if it was normal bear behavior.”
3. Leah Lokan Was a Champion Bicyclist
The Chico Enterprise-Record described Lokan as “an avid cyclist,” adding that she was on the Chico Cycling Team in her hometown.
The newspaper reported Lokan was also involved with an organization called Women on Wheels. In addition, she volunteered with Chico Velo, a nonprofit organization that advocates for safe routes for bicyclists and puts on biking events, according to its website.
Lokan was also a biking champion. In 2015, she competed in the Mammoth USA Cycling National Championships. Lokan won in her category, which was “Women’s Enduro 60+.” According to USA Cycling, Lokan completed the course in just over 54 minutes.
Hammer Nutrition identified Lokan as its “Hammer Star Athlete” at the time. The company wrote on Facebook that Lokan’s race was “a combination of intense climbs and a challenging Pro Downhill course throughout four stages.” The company praised Lokan as “one hard core chick!”
4. Lokan Was a Retired Nurse
Before her retirement, Lokan was a registered nurse. The Chico Enterprise-Record reported Lokan worked “in Santa Rosa and at Enloe Medical Center” for many years.
A search of the California Board of Registered Nursing website shows Lokan obtained her California license in 2012. The record shows she surrendered the license in 2020.
5. Friends Remember Lokan as a ‘Free Spirit’
Lokan is being remembered as a kind, adventurous person. Her friend Pamela Plemmons told the Chico Enterprise-Record they met through the Women on Wheels club.
Plemmons said Lokan wanted to explore following her retirement and that Lokan had been planning to go backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail after the Montana trip. “She was doing what she loved which was being in the mountains, riding her bike, hiking and camping.”
Mike Castaldo, the president of the Chico Cycling Club, told the newspaper he had been friends with Lokan for more than a decade. “She was a free spirit first and foremost. She always had a smile on her face. She always gave great hugs when you saw her.”
Friend Mary Flowers told the AP Lokan had planned on having a “wonderful wild adventure” this summer by riding hundreds of miles on her bicycle. “A woman in her 60s, and she’s doing this kind of stuff — she had a passion for life that was out of the ordinary.”