A black bear feeds on dandelions. (Michael Penn/Black Press Media)

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

It’s not everyday one goes out for a jog and ends up in a tree – for hours – as a large black bear patrols below, but that’s exactly what happened to Francis Levasseur while on a secluded trail in the West Kootenays recently.

Levasseur, 42, was out for an afternoon run near a friend’s farm in the Slocan Valley community of Hills, B.C., on Victoria Day long weekend when he came across the bear.

At first, Levasseur did what any expert would advise: he walked slowly, didn’t turn his back and managed to pick up a stick and wave it wildly to try and scare the four-legged predator, standing roughly 100 metres away.

But, the bear didn’t seem to care and started walking towards Levasseur. His walk turned into a run.

“I was not expecting that reaction from him,” Levasseur told Black Press Media. “I knew what he wanted right away.”

Levasseur’s quick reaction was to climb up a nearby tree – one that was too small for the large bruin to climb, and waited for nearly two hours for the bear to leave, to no avail.

“I was screaming, shaking the tree and throwing branches at the ground,” he recalled, but the bear had its own plan in mind, walking out of sight to try and trick Levasseur into thinking he was safe to climb down.

He even tried urinating on the tree – a known method to deter nosey bears.

“At the beginning, I was trying to plan an escape, but I imagined what if I start running and he catches me and goes for my guts first … I would be the spectator of my own death.”

ALSO WATCH: Bear catches ‘rascally rabbit’ for breakfast near Whistler bus stop

Luckily for Levasseur, an experienced emergency responder who lives nearby named Mat Phillips eventually heard distant yells for help from his farmhouse near the trail.

With bear spray in hand and a machete in the other, Phillips and his dog were able to find Levasseur and scare the bear away, then drove the exhausted jogger home.

Phillips, who is the president of the Hills Emergency Services Society, went back out into the wooded area the next day – this time with bear biologist Wayne McCrory – to search for the bear, but couldn’t find it. They did find a blue snowmobile, which appeared to have been abandoned in the winter and overturned by the bear.

Levasseur’s wild experience is rather rare when it comes to black bear encounters in the province, but serves as a good reminder that B.C. has officially entered its annual bear season.

There were 624 calls to the BC Conservation Officer Service about black bears in April, with 103 being attended by an officer. Fourteen bears were euthanized. Those stats are typical for the beginning of spring, according to provincial government data.

Levasseur admitted that his mistake was not bringing bear spray with him, even though his jog was intended to be a short one. As someone who has lived and worked in the bush for nearly a decade, this isn’t his first time getting close to a bear, but it’s certainly an incident he won’t forget.

“I’m more comfortable with animals, they are more predictable than humans,” Levasseur said. “But that one was not predictable at all.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Wildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Separate trials set for 2018 Kelowna Canada Day killing

Four people have been charged with manslaughter in relation to Esa Carriere’s death, including two youths

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

Parkinson Recreation Centre reopening to members

The pool and the gym areas will remain closed at this time

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

COVID-19 cases at Oliver farm likely linked to Kelowna outbreak, says Interior Health

A team of doctors, nurses and health investigators are at the Krazy Cherry Farm to test employees

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Kootnekoff: New workplace harassment and violence requirements

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years.

Dyer: Buying an electric car

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

Summerland Museum to hold walking tours

Community’s past will be explained during series of summer tours

Summerland mayor asks for community conversation following racist vandalism

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

HERGOTT: Goodbye column

Paul Hergott is taking a break from writing for Black Press

Lake Country motorhome fire deemed suspicious

Vehicle found fully engulfed Tuesday, July 14, just before 8:30 p.m.

COLUMN: A problem with the WE charity

Federal ethics commissioner investigating Trudeau for the third time

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

Most Read