CALGARY – The University of Calgary Ward mourns the loss of a senior instructor who has been called “a friend to all and a brother to many.”
Dr. David Lertzman was killed in an alleged bear attack Tuesday while jogging near his home in Waiparous, Alta., Northwest of Calgary.
The Cochrane RCMP was informed of a missing person just before midnight on Tuesday when Lertzman’s wife called and said he walked around 6 p.m. and did not return. A search was then started with a helicopter and a police dog.
Shortly after 2 a.m. on Wednesday, he was found dead on the Moss Trail, which was closed while officials investigated.
Lertzman was a lecturer at the University of Calgary and spoke about his love for the outdoors in an April 21 video posted online.
“Greetings from the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies in southern Alberta,” says the bearded Letzman, who wears a tuque and stands in a snow-covered forest.
He says he works in the field of “sustainability, leadership development and reconciliation with indigenous peoples”.
“I’m also a longtime martial artist, qigong, and meditation teacher,” he said.
“This is my temple, it’s the dojo,” he added, pointing to the trees around him. “Folks, if you have a dream, if you have the drive, determination, sincere search, ferocity and humility, this is the place to do it. You can achieve just about anything.”
Dr. Jim Dewald, dean of the Haskane School of Business, called Lertzman “a friend to all and a brother to many”.
“”David was a valued senior instructor who had worked with Haskayne since 2000, but he really was so much more. He was our spiritual guide, our indigenous connection and our sustainability hero, “he said.
Lertzman had directed a wilderness retreat since 2004 that was referred to as “a week long” Leadership experience in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains that is a transformation for many students at the Haskayne School of Business. “
He was so dedicated to the retreat that Lertzman spent around 100 hours creating an experience that could be shared via Zoom during the pandemic.
“During the wilderness retreat, Lertzman focused on leadership issues in the larger context of sustainability and helped students clarify their core values, meaning and reputation as leaders,” said a statement from the university.
“He was deeply committed to ii ‘taa’poh’to’p, UCalgary’s indigenous strategy. He brought to the fore the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, particularly Resolution 92 – the role corporations have in healing the past Haskayne students learned from dormitory school system survivors in his classroom, and UCalgary benefited from its close relationships with local elders. “
The UCalgary flag will be lowered on campus Thursday to honor Lertzman.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife is working with RCMP and the doctor’s office to determine the cause of death. Wildlife officers also look for the bear.
Kyle Juneau, a fish and wildlife inspector, said this could be a dangerous time of year in terms of human-animal conflict.
“It’s spring and we all know that there are a lot of bears in this area, grizzly bears, black bears. Spring is especially dangerous, they’re hungry, they’re out of the cave,” he said.
“They’re going to where they had something to eat last fall.”
Should the bear be captured, Juneau said a decision will be made about its fate.
“Catch the bear, move, put it to sleep, all options are weighed up, but it’s too early to say what we’re up against,” he said.
“Is it a male bear? Is it a female bear with cubs? All of these things we refer to our matrix and consult our biologists and then make the appropriate decisions.”
Waiparous Creek is located approximately 70 kilometers northwest of Calgary.
Dangerous wild animals can be reported via the 24-hour Report-A-Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.
With files from Kevin Fleming of CTV Calgary