A 36-year-old man is recovering in hospital after being bitten by a grizzly bear in backcountry territory near Pemberton, B.C.
Sgt. Simon Gravel with the Sea to Sky Conservation Office shared details of the incident, saying the man and two friends were on their first day of a hunting trip when there was a “surprise encounter.”
“The man was hiking towards the North Creek Cabin and he saw a bear cub and the first thing he knew the sow was on him, biting his leg, so he fought back,” Gravel said. “The bear disengaged and came back shortly after to cause more injuries, then he fought back again and eventually the bear disengaged.”
Gravel said the trail was in dense bush and there was no way for the man to know there was a bear cub feeding on berries nearby, adding it was a “hazardous situation.”
The two men he was travelling with applied first aid and took shelter in a nearby hut, where they activated a spot beacon.
David MacKenzie with Pemberton Search and Rescue said they received a call about the incident around 6 p.m. on Friday, saying there was a person injured by a bear in the backcountry.
“We’ve got a lot of local knowledge of these areas,” MacKenzie said, and the text message from the beacon contained GPS coordinates so the rescue teams were “able to figure out where they were.”
The men were all airlifted out of the area. Gravel said that was a precaution taken to avoid another encounter with the bear. The injured man was then transferred to Lions Gate Hospital for surgery.
“It seems like he has a good spirit and he will recover from his injuries,” Gravel said.
The BC Mountainerring Club has closed the cabin for the remainder of the season to avoid any further interactions. Signs are also being installed at the trail head.
The attack is the third that the search and rescue team has responded to this year.
“This is actually the third grizzly bear encounter call that we’ve had in the last month,” MacKenzie said. “In my experience, I can’t recall any in the last 10 years.”
He believes there are more people venturing farther for camping and hiking and, as a result, the search organization is warning would-be adventurers that they are visiting grizzly territory.
“Be bear aware. You have to remember we’re actually visitors in their territory,” MacKenzie said. “If you come across a mother and some cubs, you want to distance yourself, stay calm.”