Two women were critically injured by a black bear just after sunset Monday on a trail near Dawson Creek, B.C., local police say.
Conservation officials say a teenage boy was also hurt after the bear charged a family of four walking on the Bear Mountain Nordic Ski Association trails, about six kilometres from the city in the northeast of the province.
Police say rescue teams and RCMP were called to the area and searched the 23-kilometre network of forested trails for an hour after receiving reports of the attack.
With darkness coming on, police say two RCMP officers in an all-terrain vehicle found the two women lying in the bush with life-threatening injuries.
Staff Sgt. Damon Werrell, detachment commander of the Dawson Creek RCMP, said the officers shot and killed a large boar black bear nearby that appeared to be "guarding the victims."
In a written post, the Conservation Officer Service said the family was chased by the bear after it charged them, and it attacked one of the women.
The second woman and a teenage boy were injured trying to help her.
The conservation service says the boy was swatted by the bear but was able to leave the area to get help.
RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said a member of the family was able to call police.
South Peace Search and Rescue volunteers helped transport the women, aged 30 and 48, out of the bush to paramedics.
One of the women was airlifted to hospital in Edmonton. The other woman and the teenager were taken to hospital in Dawson Creek.
Officials say conservation officers didn't locate any other bears in the area, and will conduct a necropsy on the bear that was shot.
RCMP said people in the back country should carry bear spray, travel in groups and avoid hiking during sunrise and sunset, when bears will be most active.
The Bear Mountain Nordic Ski Association maintains trails for hiking, cross-country running, wildlife watching, mountain biking and horseback riding in the summer. The trails have been closed to the public since the attack.