Two Canadian fugitives suspected of a triple murder could have already died in the wilderness, a survival expert has said.
Police have been scouring remote areas of Manitoba province for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, since a burnt-out car used by the pair was found in the town of Gillam last week.
Sherman Kong, who runs a survival company in Winnipeg, said the swampy terrain around Gillam is inhabited by bears and insects that are “relentless and quite abundant”.
The pair could have already died from an animal attack, dehydration, a serious injury or other causes, Mr Kong said.
But he said that even people without formal training can survive being lost in the wilderness.
“If we expect these two gentlemen are motivated, and even if they have a certain level of survival skills, that coupled with their intent on not being captured can often be enough to allow someone to remain at large in the bush and survive longer,” he said.
McLeod and Schmegelsky have been charged with second degree murder over the death of Leonard Dyck.
They are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend Chynna Deese, whose bodies were found along the Alaska Highway on 15 July.
Authorities confirmed that McLeod and Schmegelsky were stopped while driving through a checkpoint last week but had been let go.
Nathan Neckoway, a councillor for Tataskweyak Cree Nation, told Global News that safety officers searched the pair for alcohol.
Alcohol is banned in the area.
As the duo had not yet been named as suspects and were not carrying any alcohol, they were allowed to drive on.
They then drove 55 miles west to Gillam, crashed their car, set fire to it and fled.
Authorities used dogs, drones, helicopters, boats and a military Hercules aircraft to search the town of York Landing, but have since pulled out of the remote area.
Residents had been warned to lock their doors and stay inside as police hunt for the suspects.
The search has now returned to the area around Gillam.