Bear pulls woman out of her tent, kills her in Montana

A helicopter from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks flies around the Ovando area on Tuesday in search of a bear that killed a camper early that morning. Search for the bear continued Wednesday. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 08 July 2021
Follow

Bear pulls woman out of her tent, kills her in Montana

  • Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of California, was on a long-distance bicycling trip and had stopped in Montana when she was killed Tuesday
  • The bear also entered a chicken coop in town that night, killed and ate several chickens

HELENA, Montana: A grizzly bear pulled a woman from her tent in a small Montana town in the middle of the night and killed her, wildlife officials said.
Then fellow campers used bear spray to force the bruin out of the area.
Leah Davis Lokan, 65, of Chico, California, was on a long-distance bicycling trip and had stopped in the western Montana town of Ovando when she was killed early Tuesday, said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials as they provided more details about the attack.
Lokan was killed on the bear’s second visit to the site where she and two fellow bicyclists were camping near the post office, officials said.
The approximately 400-pound (181-kilogram) grizzly first awakened the campers about 3 a.m., officials said. They took food out of their tents, secured it and went back to sleep, they said.
Surveillance video from a business in town showed the bear about a block from the post office about 15 minutes later, wildlife officials said.
About 4:15 a.m., the sheriff’s office received a 911 call after two people in a tent near the victim’s were awakened by sounds of the attack, Powell County Sheriff Gavin Roselles said. They discharged their bear spray, and the bear ran away.
The bear is also believed to have entered a chicken coop in town that night, killing and eating several chickens.
Efforts to find and kill the bear entered a third day Thursday. Wildlife officials stopped the helicopter flights that were used in the initial search for the grizzly and set five large traps — made out of culverts and baited with roadkill — in and around Ovando. That included traps near the chicken coop that the bear raided the night Lokan was killed.
Investigators got DNA left by the bear at the scene of the attack and could compare it with any bruin they are able to trap. Bear specialists and game wardens also were stationed near the traps to shoot the animal if the opportunity arises, said Greg Lemon, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson.
“Our best chance would be if the bear comes back and tries to get another chicken or some more food around town,” Lemon said. “Our wardens, they feel like they could readily identify the bear that they saw on the (surveillance footage) and if they saw that bear at the trap and had a clear shot at it, they might choose to do that.”
Lokan, a registered nurse who had worked at a hospital in Chico, had looked forward to the Montana bike trip for months, said Mary Flowers, a friend of the victim’s from Chico. Lokan had taken previous long-distance bike trips and on this one was accompanied by her sister and a friend, Flowers said.
“She was talking about her summer plans — this wonderful wild adventure, riding her bike on, I don’t know, a 400-mile trip or something,” Flowers said. “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.”
People who camp in grizzly bear country — whether deep in the woods or in a developed campground — are advised to keep food and scented products like toothpaste away from their campsites at all times and to cook elsewhere.
If a bear comes through a campsite, it’s important to stay on lookout for the animal to return, Lemon said.
“You’ve secured your food, stay awake, stay vigilant and be ready,” he said. “Having bear spray is important, and they did, but we don’t know if the victim did.”
Grizzly bears have run into increasing conflict with humans in the Northern Rockies over the past decade as the federally protected animals expanded into new areas and the number of people living and recreating in the region grew. That has spurred calls from elected officials in Montana and neighboring Wyoming and Idaho to lift protections so the animals could be hunted.
Ovando, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Helena, is a community of fewer than 100 people at the edge of the sprawling Bob Marshall wilderness.
North of Ovando lies an expanse of forests and mountains, including Glacier National Park that stretches to Canada and is home to an estimated 1,000 grizzlies. It’s the largest concentration of the bruins in the contiguous US
Fatal attacks are rare in the region. There have been three in the last 20 years, including Tuesday’s mauling, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 2001, a hunter was killed by a grizzly with two cubs while he was gutting an elk at a wildlife management area west of Ovando. The three animals were shot and killed by wildlife officials days later. Over the past 20 years, there have been eight fatal maulings of people by grizzlies from a separate population of about 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. In April, a backcountry guide was killed by a grizzly bear while fishing along the park’s border in southwestern Montana.
Bears that attack people are not always killed if the mauling resulted from a surprise encounter or the bear was defending its young. But the bear involved in Lokan’s death is considered a public safety threat because of the circumstances of the attack, Lemon said.


New research explores how a short trip to space affects the human body

Updated 12 June 2024
Follow

New research explores how a short trip to space affects the human body

  • Research on four space tourists is included in a series of studies on the health effects of space travel, down to the molecular level

DALLAS: Space tourists experience some of the same body changes as astronauts who spend months in orbit, according to new studies published Tuesday.
Those shifts mostly returned to normal once the amateurs returned to Earth, researchers reported.
Research on four space tourists is included in a series of studies on the health effects of space travel, down to the molecular level. The findings paint a clearer picture of how people — who don’t undergo years of astronaut training — adapt to weightlessness and space radiation, the researchers said.
“This will allow us to be better prepared when we’re sending humans into space for whatever reason,” said Allen Liu, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Michigan who was not involved with the research. 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with four private citizens onboard, lifts off in this time-exposure photo from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39-A, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. New research presents the largest set of information yet regarding how the human body reacts to spaceflight. (AP/File)


NASA and others have long studied the toll of space travel on astronauts, including yearlong residents of the International Space Station, but there’s been less attention on space tourists. The first tourist visit to the space station was in 2001, and opportunities for private space travel have expanded in recent years.
A three-day chartered flight in 2021 gave researchers the chance to examine how quickly the body reacts and adapts to spaceflight, said Susan Bailey, a radiation expert at Colorado State University who took part in the research.
While in space, the four passengers on the SpaceX flight, dubbed Inspiration4, collected samples of blood, saliva, skin and more. Researchers analyzed the samples and found wide-ranging shifts in cells and changes to the immune system. Most of these shifts stabilized in the months after the four returned home, and the researchers found that the short-term spaceflight didn’t pose significant health risks.
“This is the first time we’ve had a cell-by-cell examination of a crew when they go to space,” said researcher and co-author Chris Mason with Weill Cornell Medicine.
The papers, which were published Tuesday in Nature journals and are now part of a database, include the impact of spaceflight on the skin, kidneys and immune system. The results could help researchers find ways to counteract the negative effects of space travel, said Afshin Beheshti, a researcher with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science who took part in the work.


Russia races to save entangled humpback whale in the Arctic

Updated 11 June 2024
Follow

Russia races to save entangled humpback whale in the Arctic

  • Video shot by a marine biologist shows the whale with some sort of net and rope wrapped tightly around its body near the flippers

MOSCOW: Russian marine specialists are racing to save a humpback whale which has become entangled in a fishing net north of the Arctic circle.
Video shot by a marine biologist shows the whale, who has been named Stanislav, with some sort of net and rope wrapped tightly around its body near the flippers.
After tourists on the Kola Peninsula, in Russia’s far north, spotted the stricken mammal, biologists searched over 120 km (75 miles) of coastline before identifying it, according to Svetlana Radionova, head of Russia’s natural resources watchdog Rosprirodnadzor.
“The whale entangled in the nets has been found alive,” Radionova said on Telegram, adding that specialists would try to get close to it and cut off the net.


Turkish student arrested for using AI to cheat in university exam

Updated 11 June 2024
Follow

Turkish student arrested for using AI to cheat in university exam

ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities have arrested a student for cheating during a university entrance exam by using a makeshift device linked to artificial intelligence software to answer questions.
The student was spotted behaving in a suspicious way during the exam at the weekend and was detained by police, before being formally arrested and sent to jail pending trial.
Another person, who was helping the student, was also detained.
A video released by police in the southwestern province of Isparta showed how the student used a camera disguised as a shirt button linked to artificial intelligence software via a router hidden in the sole of the person’s shoe.
A police officer in the video scans a question to show how the system works, with the AI software generating the correct answer, which is recited through an earpiece.


Rare elephant twins born in dramatic birth in Thailand

Updated 11 June 2024
Follow

Rare elephant twins born in dramatic birth in Thailand

AYUTTHAYA: An elephant in Thailand has delivered a rare set of twins in a dramatic birth that left a carer injured after he tried to rescue one of the newborns.
The 36-year-old Asian elephant named Jamjuree gave birth to an 80-kilogramme (176-pound) male at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal north of Bangkok on Friday night.
But when a second, 60-kilogramme female calf emerged 18 minutes later, the mother went into a frenzy and attacked her new arrival.
“We heard somebody shout ‘there is another baby being born!’” said veterinarian Lardthongtare Meepan.
An elephant keeper, also known as a mahout, moved in to prevent the mother from attacking her newborn, and took a blow to his ankle in return.
“The mother attacked the baby because she had never had twins before — it’s very rare,” said Michelle Reedy, the director of the Elephant Stay organization, which allows visiting tourists to ride, feed and bathe elephants at the Royal Kraal center.
“The mahouts who are the carers of the elephants jumped in there trying to get the baby away so that she didn’t kill it,” Reedy told AFP.
Jamjuree has now accepted her calves, who are so small that a special platform has been built to help them reach up to suckle.
They are also being given supplemental pumped milk by syringe, said Lardthongtare.
Twin elephants are rare, forming around only one percent of births, according to research organization Save the Elephants, and male-female twin births are even more unusual.
Mothers often do not have enough milk for both calves and the pair might not have survived in the wild, said Reedy.
“Whether the rest of the herd may have intervened — they may have, but the baby may have been trampled in the process,” she said.
Reedy said many of the 80 elephants at the center were rescued from street begging, a practice that became increasingly common after a logging ban in 1989 that left mahouts working in the industry with their elephants seeking alternative income.
The practice, which was outlawed in 2010, involved the animals performing tricks like playing with footballs or carrying baskets of fruit.
Some elephants at Royal Kraal carry tourists to the nearby ruins and temples of Ayutthaya, the historic former capital of Siam.
Many conservation groups oppose elephant riding, arguing it is stressful for the animals and often involves abusive training.
The center argues the rides allow the animals to socialize and exercise, and promote conservation of the species, which is endangered in Southeast Asia and China.
Only about 8,000-11,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild, according to the WWF.
The animals were once widespread, but deforestation, human encroachment and poaching have decimated their numbers.
The twin calves, whose father is a 29-year-old elephant named Siam, will be named seven days after their birth, in accordance with Thai custom.


African elephants call each other by unique names, new study shows

In this undated photo, an African elephant matriarch leads her calf away from danger in northern Kenya. (AP)
Updated 11 June 2024
Follow

African elephants call each other by unique names, new study shows

  • Researchers tested their results by playing recordings to individual elephants, who responded more energetically, ears flapping and trunk lifted, to recordings that contained their names

WASHINGTON: African elephants call each other and respond to individual names — something that few wild animals do, according to new research published Monday.
The names are one part of elephants’ low rumbles that they can hear over long distances across the savanna. Scientists believe that animals with complex social structures and family groups that separate and then reunite often may be more likely to use individual names.
“If you’re looking after a large family, you’ve got to be able to say, ‘Hey, Virginia, get over here!’” said Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm, who was not involved in the study.
It’s extremely rare for wild animals to call each other by unique names. Humans have names, of course, and our dogs come when their names are called. Baby dolphins invent their own names, called signature whistles, and parrots may also use names.
Each of these naming species also possesses the ability to learn to pronounce unique new sounds throughout their lives — a rare talent that elephants also possess.
For the study in Nature Ecology & Evolution, biologists used machine learning to detect the use of names in a sound library of savanna elephant vocalizations recorded at Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve and Amboseli National Park.
The researchers followed the elephants in jeeps to observe who called out and who appeared to respond — for example, if a mother called to a calf, or a matriarch called to a straggler who later rejoined the family group.
Analyzing only the audio data, the computer model predicted which elephant was being addressed 28 percent of the time, likely due to the inclusion of its name. When fed meaningless data, the model only accurately labeled 8 percent of calls.
“Just like humans, elephants use names, but probably don’t use names in the majority of utterances, so we wouldn’t expect 100 percent,” said study author and Cornell University biologist Mickey Pardo.
Elephant rumbles include sounds that are below the range of human hearing. The scientists still don’t know which part of the vocalization is the name.
Researchers tested their results by playing recordings to individual elephants, who responded more energetically, ears flapping and trunk lifted, to recordings that contained their names. Sometimes elephants entirely ignored vocalizations addressed to others.
“Elephants are incredibly social, always talking and touching each other — this naming is probably one of the things that underpins their ability to communicate to individuals,” said co-author and Colorado State University ecologist George Wittemyer, who is also a scientific adviser for nonprofit Save the Elephants.
“We just cracked open the door a bit to the elephant mind.”