Trapper Kills Charging Bear, Finds Family Mauled, Dead

What happened to a Canadian man and his family last week is something out of a frontier horror story.

Valérie Théorêt  and her 10-month-old baby were mauled to death by a grizzly about 100 yards from the family's cabin.
Valérie Théorêt and her 10-month-old baby were mauled to death by a grizzly about 100 yards from the family's cabin.cbc.ca

Canadian trapper Gjermund Roesholt found himself immersed in a scene that could have come from the silver screen adaption of "Jeremiah Johnson" just last Tuesday. After killing an aggressive grizzly that had charged him, he returned home to find his wife and child had been mauled to death by the same bear. Norwegian-born Gjermund Roesholt was running the Yukon Territory trap line he had purchased three years prior when a grizzly charged him less than a 100 yards from his homestead. Roesholt was “forced to shoot the bear dead,” according to a report by the Yukon Coroner’s Office. He was almost home when he made the horrific discovery. After killing the charging bear on his way home, Roesholt stumbled upon the bodies of his partner, Valérie Théorêt and their 10-month-old baby, Adele Roesholt, just outside their wilderness cabin located some 500 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska. Their lifeless bodies showed signs of a mauling, likely by the same bear that had attacked Gjermund. After making the gruesome discover, Roesholt made an SOS call with his SPOT satellite messenger. Reports from the Canadian Broadcasting Company indicate the message went out to Royal Canadian Mounted Police stationed in Mayo, a village of 200 people and the closest settlement to the cabin, as well as to friends of the couple. The family had been living together in the remote area near Einarson Lake while Valérie Théorêt was on maternity leave from her job as a French immersion teacher in the Whitehorse school 250 miles away, the story says. The family’s social media pages showed their love for the outdoors, with images depicting the family thoroughly enjoying the hunting, fishing, and foraging lifestyle they had gone to great lengths to partake in.

Gjermund Roesholt, shown here in a photo from his Instagram, shot and killed the bear when it charged him, not knowing it had already killed his family.
Gjermund Roesholt, shown here in a photo from his Instagram, shot and killed the bear when it charged him, not knowing it had already killed his family.Instagram

The Washington Post writes, "His Instagram page was something out of Field & Stream magazine. It showed him holding fish the size of his torso and selling wares at the Yukon fur market. He would trap the animals, and Théorêt would fashion some of the furs into crafts: booties for children, mittens for adults and heart-shaped refrigerator magnets for whoever would buy them."

The deaths rocked the trapping community, even though members are often hundreds of miles apart.

"It's going to be devastating to the community, because it's going to hit home to everybody. You know, we go out there, all of us, we take our wives and our children, and we live out there," fellow trapper Brian Melanson told the CBC.

The deaths only serve to illustrate just how wild and rugged the Yukon Wilderness still is, preying on the most competent and prepared. "These are competent bush people," Melanson said. "It's not from lack of experience."

"They were, I'm 100 percent sure, well-prepared for anything that could have happened," friend Rémy Beaupré said in an interview with the CBC. "But, you never know"