An Alberta hunter is in the hospital after a recent encounter with a bear left his arm badly mauled. According to CBC News, the unidentified bear hunter was traveling through the Smoky Lake area near Edmonton on Sunday when he saw a 250-pound male black bear in a clearing. The hunter shot the bear in the chest and caused the animal to flee into the forest. Officials say the hunter decided to follow the bear into the bush for several hundred yards before the bruin turned back and began attacking him in a wounded frenzy. The man was knocked down and attempted to fend off the agitated animal with one arm while holding onto his rifle with the other.
“The bear was on top of him and with basically a hold of him,” said Alberta Fish and Wildlife investigator Mike Ewald. “He managed to somehow get his rifle prepared and shoot the bear while he was on him.”
The shot fatally wounded the bear and allowed the hunter to escape. According to the National Post, the man was able to regroup with his hunting party and was taken to a nearby farmhouse where rescue personnel treated his injuries. The man was then airlifted to a nearby hospital for surgery on his arm. His wounds are not suspected to be life-threatening.
Wildlife officials say there is a lesson to be learned from all this, especially for hunters. Large animals, such as dangerous ones like bear and moose, should not be followed into dense forests immediately after being shot—the animal is much more likely to attack humans and can readily ambush hunters who come near it. Experts recommend hunting in groups for this reason, and there have been plenty of scenarios where having just one extra companion have proved to be lifesaving. In this case, officials say the hunter ventured off alone to retrieve the bear instead of waiting for his group to catch up. According to Ewald, an enraged 250-pound bear could easily kill a man.
“It’s a story he’ll be able to tell his grandkids,” Ewald added.
Officials retrieved a dead bear that is believed to be the one involved in the attack, but are still awaiting DNA confirmation. Bear attacks seem to be on an uptick this year in Alberta, and not just for hunters. Earlier this year a Suncor employee was killed when another large black bear attacked an oil sands site near Fort McMurray. Wildlife officials received other reports of bear encounters by hikers and park employees.