Hunting in British Columbia is turning out to be a dangerous endeavor after officials reported two separate grizzly attacks in under one week. Two sheep hunters near Buckinghorse River are now recovering from serious injuries after an encounter with a grizzly sow on Sunday, and an elk hunter from the Cranbrook area was hospitalized after an attack on Tuesday.
Despite suffering serious wounds in both cases, the hunters were able to successfully fight off the bears and contact rescue services. Officials warn that during this time of year bears are attempting to fatten up before winter and may be more aggressive than usual. This can be especially true of sows, which have a reputation for attacking any perceived threats to their cubs.
That seems to be what happened to Chad Dueck, who was bowhunting for elk south of Cranbrook when he was ambushed by a sow with two cubs. According to Global News, Dueck managed to fire off at least one arrow before the large bear knocked him off his feet and started mauling him.
“It knocked him down, it started clawing him, biting him and threw him around. He was able to get up, and with his bow in hand and his arrow in hand, fight off the grizzly or hit it,” conservation officer Joe Caravetta told Global News.
Dueck’s family credited his determination and training in martial arts for his survival, but the hunter did not leave the encounter unscathed. The bear bit him multiple times on the lower back, buttocks, face, and neck. He also suffered a torn bicep and nerve damage. However, doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
The condition of the another two hunters involved in a separate bear attack is unknown. According to the CBC, the two men had successfully harvested a sheep and were transporting it out of the remote wilds near Fort Nelson when they ran into a grizzly with two cubs. The animal attacked one of the men and the other shot at it with a gun. That seemed to do little more than draw the animal’s attention, and the second man was mauled as well. The men did manage to fight the animal off eventually. However, since the attack happened later in the day, by the time a rescue helicopter arrived it was too dark to land. Medical personnel treated the hunters’ wounds and stayed with them overnight until they could be transported the next morning.
Officials said that both attacks appear to be a case of being in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” Since both incidents were determined to be defensive, rather than predatory, attacks, officials will not be hunting for the bears involved. Hunters are advised to practice caution in bear territory, carry bear spray, and make lots of noise when possible. A bear is less likely to approach and attack a group of humans, while a startled bear may instinctively charge.
“Quite frankly, the bear is the top predator in those areas and the king of the mountain,” conservation officer Mark West told the CBC.
Officials added that a shortage of berries this summer may be to blame for the increase of bear sightings near inhabited areas.