A grizzly bear and her cubs feast on salmon at the Atnarko River in September. Rob Coetzee photo

B.C. man drives to hospital following grizzly attack

The Bella Coola man surprised a sow grizzly bear that had been feeding on a cherry tree

A Bella Coola Valley man has been transported to hospital in Vancouver for further treatment after being attacked by a sow grizzly bear early Tuesday morning.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was coming out of his cabin on Grant Road between Hagensborg and Bella Coola at about 6 a.m. when he startled the grizzly and her three cubs as they were feeding on a cherry tree beside the home, said Conservation Officer Service Insp. Len Butler of the Thompson Cariboo Region.

“Basically when the person came out, the cub dropped out of the tree which is right by his door and the sow was feeding on the cherry tree also, she saw him and basically attacked him immediately. [It was a] very short attack, lasting only a few seconds, but the subject was bitten up pretty good and basically after that the sow and her three cubs just walked away.”

The victim was able to go back into his cabin and get his keys and drive himself to hospital in Bella Coola.

“Which is encouraging when you hear that,” Butler said, noting the man was in stable condition and suffering from wounds to his head, abdomen and leg — something Butler said is very typical of a defensive attack from a grizzly.

Bella Coola conservation officer Steve Hodgson started the investigation immediately, including gathering DNA evidence, and secured the scene to ensure no other public was a risk from the grizzly, while a predator attack team out of Williams Lake was en route to the Bella Coola Valley Tuesday morning to respond to the incident and determine next steps.

Read more: Kayaker mauled by grizzly bear in southeast B.C.

Butler said these types of encounters are exactly what the COS hopes to avoid by educating the public to manage their bear attractants, such as ripe fruit, on their properties. Through the COS residents can even receive free electric fencing for their trees as fruit ripens, and the COS is continually working with communities to make them bear-aware.

“We’re at the point now where there’s just no excuse [for not dealing with bear attractants],” Butler said. “Here is the result when you don’t.”

Read more: Bella Coola sow grizzly destroyed, cub sent to Smithers rehab centre

He said currently there are many grizzly bears in the valley roaming between creeks and rivers feeding on salmon and ripening fruit trees, even walking among homes and through businesses. Meanwhile the valley also has an influx of visitors at this time of year coming to vacation or fish the same areas the bears are in.

“We’ve been waiting, wondering when something was going to happen.”

Butler said they will locate the sow and her cubs and monitor her movements and behaviour and then make a determination on her future after that.

“We try and make the best choice that we can,” Butler said of deciding whether or not to destroy the animals, noting that they do not always put down bears that are only acting defensively.

“Let’s be honest, if the cherry tree wasn’t there, would she be there?”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cooler temps today, but no rain in forecast until August

Environment Canada does not have good news when it comes to fighting fires in the Central Okanagan.

Updated: Evacuation order downgraded to alert for properties near Peachland

Crews continue to battle the 1,000 hectare Mount Eneas blaze south of Peachland

Fire command centre relocating from Penticton to West Kelowna

Firefighting resources to be concentrated out of temporary camp

Lake Country firefighters lend a hand to combat 1,000 hectare blaze

The Mount Eneas wildfire remains out of control south of Peachland

Updated: Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

Up-to-date information on blazes happening the Kamloops Wildfire Centre

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

BC toddler with ‘allergy’ to sun waiting for bone marrow transplant

Charlie Lock, 2, needs treatment for damage caused by rare disorder EPP

Summerland campfire ban issued

Ban took effect at noon on Friday to reduce wildfire risk

Ban imposed on vehicle access to Kalamoir Regional Park

Precaution taken due to high fire hazard

Power affected by wildfire

Approximately 244 B.C. Hydro customers west of Summerland affected by the power outages

VIDEO: How to throw a frisbee

Ultimate frisbee player Amy Mackay shows off the proper technique

Summerland Stomp cancelled

Wildfires in area lead to cancellation of event at Summerland Rodeo Grounds

Site C dam project plagued by problems: expert

E. Harvey Elwin expresses concern about internal BC Hydro and government documents

Tigers complete series sweep

Vernon grounds Kamloops 12-9 for Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League playoff title

Most Read