A 21-year-old woman was attacked by a bear Thursday while planting trees in a northeastern Canada park, authorities said.
The unidentified conservation officer was “seriously injured” and remains hospitalized in stable condition after the harrowing experience.
“At this time, Conservation Officers do not have conclusive physical evidence but believe the attack involved a grizzly bear,” Conservation Officer Service said in a statement.
The woman had been working in cutblock area near Bearhole Lake Provincial Park, a wildlife-protected refuge near Tumbler Ridge in British Columbia, shortly after 3 p.m. when the beast sprung.
The bear initially bluff-charged the tree planter in an attempt to scare her.
She retreated to a nearby roadway, where the animal followed and attacked before ultimately escaping.
A co-worker rushed to the woman’s aid before she was airlifted to a hospital in nearby Prince George.
Conservation investigators believe the bear was surprised by the tree planter and was acting in self-defense.
Although bear activity was evident in the area, the animal has not been seen since the attack.
“Due to the defensive nature of the attack, and remote proximity of the location, Conservation Officers believe the risk to public safety is low and are not undertaking any trapping efforts,” the department said.
There are as many as 16,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia, according to the Government of Canada.
Attacks are relatively rare, but grizzlies are known to “defend themselves when surprised and seem to have a more aggressive temper than black bears.”
Bearhole Lake Protected Area is a popular spot for hiking, camping and other outdoor excursions, and is described by British Columbia Parks as an area that “teems with wildlife.”
Black bears are known to frequent the refuge, as well as other large mammals such as moose, caribou and deer.
Visitors are warned to arm themselves with bear spray and to stay in large groups to avoid a tragic encounter with the native animals.