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Teen who lost mother to grizzly chased by bear herself

 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Lea McCroy, 17, poses for a photo in front of a Canmore mural in memory of her mom, Isabelle Dube, who was killed in a grizzly bear attack in June 2005, in Canmore, Alta., on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colette Derwoiz

Lea McCroy, 17, poses for a photo in front of a Canmore mural in memory of her mom, Isabelle Dube, who was killed in a grizzly bear attack in June 2005, in Canmore, Alta., on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colette Derwoiz

The daughter of an Alberta woman who died in a grizzly bear attack in 2005 says she now has a better sense of how her mom felt in the moments before she died thanks to her own run-in with a notorious bear.

Earlier this summer, Lea McCroy was out for a run near Canmore, a picturesque mountain town about 100 kilometres west of Calgary, when she heard a crashing sound in the woods.

“I see part of this grizzly bear, just standing there huffing and puffing,” the 17-year old recalled in an interview.

McCroy was told by officials it was likely Bear 148, a six-and-a-half year old female grizzly that was in the area at the time. The bear was relocated a week later to an area north of Jasper National Park after several other close calls with people in the Canmore area.

McCroy said she looked at the bear from a couple metres away for a second, then panicked and ran.

“I was just so scared,” she said. “I thought that was going to be it: ‘What are the chances that this is going to happen to me, too? I’m not dying today. I’m not dying today.”’

Her fears were rooted in the death of her mom, Isabelle Dube.

Dube was out jogging with friends near a Canmore golf course on June 5, 2005, when a grizzly bear attacked. She climbed a tree and her friends ran for help, but Dube didn’t survive.

McCroy, who was five years old then, said she’s learned a lot about bear safety since her mom died but admitted she didn’t follow any of those rules when she came face-to-face with a grizzly bear.

“I did all the wrong things,” she said, noting she was out for a run on her own, left her bear spray in the car and ran away when she saw the bear.

Since the incident, however, she has changed her behaviour and thought a lot about her mom.

“I was thinking, in some ways, that this was what my mom was thinking,” said McCroy. “I was thinking maybe I was weak. The bear wasn’t even doing anything and I was running away and being frantic while my mom stood her ground and fought for her life.”

She has also thought a lot about Bear 148, which was relocated out of her home range to Kakwa Wildland Provincial Park.

“I want to protect the bears, I don’t want people to hurt them, I don’t want them to die because of humans,” she said. “There’s obviously territorial bears up there. I hope she can stand her ground and live her life.”

An official with the province said the female grizzly bear is being monitored by a GPS collar in her new home.

“She’s alive and well,” said Brett Boukall, a senior wildlife biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks in Cochrane.

“She’s settled in close to the area where she was dropped off.”