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Xaxli’p Elder Mauled to Death by Bear in B.C.

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The small, remote British Columbia community of Xaxli’p First Nation is mourning the woman its members called “Aunt” after respected elder Bernice Evelyn Adolph was killed by a black bear earlier this month.

Police in British Columbia said that they could tell immediately upon discovering the remains of the 72-year-old woman, who was reported missing in the last days of June, that bears had been feeding on her, but it took an autopsy to confirm that they had caused her death, according to CBC News and other reports. She lived outside Lillooet, about 100 miles northeast of Vancouver.

"After reviewing the autopsy results, evidence from the scene, and expertise and information provided by conservation officers, the B.C. Coroners Service was able to confirm a bear attack as the cause of her death," spokesman Mark Coleman said in a press release on July 5, according to CBC News.

Adolph’s body was found 300 meters from her remote property after members of the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police service responded to a missing-person’s report and followed a trail of bloody clothing down a steep hill beside her house, the Vancouver Sun reported. Officials caught and killed four bears and are confident they got the one that killed Adolph, the Vancouver Sun said. Adolph was identified using dental records.

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She was mourned and remembered by her 1,000-member community as a lively woman, Postmedia News reported.

“She was a very respected elder in our community. She had lots to teach,” Xaxli’p First Nation Chief Arthur Adolph told Postmedia News. “Members of our community called her ‘aunt.’ ”