05/08/2014 12:00 EDT | Updated 07/08/2014 05:59 EDT

Bear attack on Alberta Suncor worker unprecedented

A bear attack that resulted in the death of an employee at Suncor’s oilsands site north of Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday, was described as unprecedented by a provincial official.   

“I do know that, certainly from an Occupational Health and Safety perspective, this is the first that I’m aware of having a worker either seriously injured or killed by a bear of any variety,” said Barrie Harrison, a spokesman for Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.

The woman was attacked and killed by the large, male black bear around 2 p.m. MT. RCMP shot and killed the animal as soon as they arrived. The woman was declared dead at the scene.

Occupational Health and Safety as well as Alberta Fish and Wildlife are investigating the incident, trying to find out how the woman’s death could have been prevented.

Alberta trapper and wildlife expert Bill Abercrombie suggests that the late spring weather may have been a factor in making the bear so aggressive.

Black bears have been known to attack humans for food and this is the time of year they will travel to find something to eat.

“This spring we’re running a little late in terms of the frost coming out of the ground and the forage for the bears being available in a timely manner for them when they’re out of their dens,” Abercrombie said.

“I think the bears might be a little hungrier this spring.”

The investigation will look into whether the woman was alone at the time, as well as what measures the company takes to prevent such attacks.

Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal isn’t sure if there are fences around the facility, but said workers undergo regular training on how to interact with wildlife