Teen brothers had no chance to avoid massive grizzly as it came crashing out of the forest straight at them
Matthew Ramsey The Province
September 14, 2005
Christopher Solecki had time only to look up and see that a bear was smashing down trees directly in front of him before the massive grizzly charged.
Beside the 13-year-old Burns Lake boy on the Monday evening stroll was his big brother Matthew, 15.
The two were on the family's cattle ranch in the rolling hills about 30 kilometres outside of town.
When the boys reached the edge of a swampy area, their dog Snowpup ran ahead into the brush.
Seconds later, Snowpup sprinted past the boys in the other direction.
"We each had bear spray but it didn't do us any good. It [the bear] was there in an instant," Matthew told The Province yesterday.
"This bear came out of the bushes. It trampled some trees, knocked them over and grabbed my brother by the leg, tossed him a bit.
"We didn't have any chance. We had no warning. It was just there."
The animal dwarfed the boys. Matthew, who is about five feet nine and in Grade 10, recalls the grizzly's distinctive shoulder hump as being taller than him.
Christopher, five feet one, his thigh in the bear's mouth, was shaken and thrown like a rag doll.
Grizzlies can reach speeds of 55 km/h, weigh as much as 700 kilograms and stand two metres tall at the shoulder.
"It was gigantic . . . It looked like it could rip through a doorway," said Matthew.
Terrified, the teen raced up a hill toward a nearby farm shed screaming for his father, Jon, who was working on some equipment.
Jon sprinted to Christopher's aid while Matthew carried on to the house. Christopher yelled to his father to help.
Jon found his son bleeding badly from the head, but conscious. The bear was gone.
The boy's scalp was torn, claw or teeth marks in his flesh.
Under the skin, an egg-sized piece of Christopher's skull was fractured in several places. Jon is not sure if the skull damage was due to biting, clawing or the bear standing on Christopher's head.
Jon tried to carry his son in his arms to the house, but the hill was too steep. He put him over his shoulder instead.
"I could hear the leg [bones] grinding away," Jon said.
At the house, Matthew was calling everyone he could -- police, ambulance, conservation officers, neighbours he knew had guns.
A helicopter flew Christopher and his mother, Cynthia, to Burns Lake Hospital, where Christopher's condition was stabilized.
He was then flown to Children's Hospital in Vancouver, where he underwent surgery to repair the damage to his leg and head.
The avid hockey player and star goalie was conscious and in good condition yesterday afternoon.
"He's doing OK," said his relieved father. "It could have been a lot worse."
Bob Coyle, the senior conservation officer in Prince George, agreed.
The grizzly, which is believed to be an adult male, did not feed on the boy.
And the fact it didn't stalk the two suggests the attack was defensive, not predatory, Coyle said -- perhaps a response to Snowpup and alarm at finding two humans close by.
Grizzlies typically feed immediately following a predatory attack or bury their prey to eat later.
Conservation officers and police fanned out around the area Monday night in an effort to find the bear and tranquilize it for investigation. They returned to the Solecki farm at dawn yesterday to set snares, collect hair and blood samples and to document tracks.
They found evidence the bear had been in the immediate vicinity for about a week feeding on oats and peas growing in the fields.
Coyle said the animal is not believed to be "a problem bear," adding: "None of that predatory behaviour was exhibited here."
Neighbours of the Soleckis say bears are common in the rural area and kids are taught early what to do should they encounter one. Still, said school bus driver Jan Giesbrecht, who drives the Solecki boys to Burns Lake Secondary every day, Monday's mauling is alarming.
"It's scary. It's kind of a surprise. There's bears all over," she said.
Body found on a remote forestry road two days after he went missing
Darah Hansen Vancouver Sun, with files from the Prince George Citizen
Friday, September 23, 2005
PRINCE GEORGE - Conservation officers in Prince George are on the hunt for a female grizzly and her two cubs after a 60-year-old Invermere man was mauled to death while walking along a remote forestry road about 100 kilometres southeast of the city.
The body of Arthur Louie was discovered by police early Thursday morning -- two days after he was reported missing by co-workers at a gold mining camp set up along the Bowron River.
Clues left behind at the attack site, including scuffle marks and footprints, have led conservation officers to surmise Louie likely came across the bears suddenly and had no time to run away.
"It looks like it was all of a sudden, boom, there they were on top of him," said Bob Coyle, senior conservation officer.
Louie's death is the first fatal bear attack in B.C. since 2002.
According to Prince George RCMP, Louie was last seen driving out of the mining camp about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. His broken-down vehicle was found by police at 2:20 a.m. Thursday along the remote road.
Not far from the vehicle were telltale signs of a bear encounter.
"The members found some personal effects -- a hat, a notebook and things," said RCMP Sgt. Wayne Gordey. "It was pretty clear what had happened. It was dark and they could hear the bear still in the vicinity."
The police officers sought help from conservation officers and later Thursday morning they found the body of the missing man.
Coyle said it appears Louie was trying to walk back to the mining camp after his vehicle got a flat tire. He said the dense bush in the area, combined with the narrowness of the road, probably obscured man from bear, and vice versa, until they were practically on top of each other.
"From what the investigation has shown at this time it's quite likely he surprised the sow and her cubs," Coyle said.
Coyle said it's rare for a grizzly to initiate a predatory attack on a human. More likely, he said, this was a defensive attack.
"It's hard to say why, exactly. She might have been protecting her cubs or felt her cubs were threatened," he said.
Snares have been set in the area in an effort to capture all three bears. Once that has been done, Coyle said conservation officers will decide their fate.
"They may well be destroyed. That's a decision that has yet to be made," he said.
Coyle said Prince George residents should not feel threatened by news of the attack.
"We certainly don't have any indication that we have a real bad situation or a real problem bear here," he said.
Christopher Bayduza, of Ardrossan, Alta., was the last person to be killed by a bear in B.C. The 31-year-old oil-rig worker was attacked by a black bear in northern B.C. in September, 2002, as he walked to the back of a trailer near the drilling rig where he was working with a five-man crew.
In May of this year, 27-year-old Julia Gerlach of Prince George was mauled by a black bear as she worked in the bush about 150 kilometres north of Fort Nelson. One ear was torn off as the bear ripped at her scalp. A co-worker fired a shotgun blast to scare the bear off.
And earlier this month, 13-year-old Christopher Solecki survived a grizzly attack on his family's ranch, about 30 kilometres south of Burns Lake.
Since 1985, seven people have been killed by black bears in B.C., and six people, including Louie, by grizzlies.
FATAL ATTACKS RARE:
- The last fatal bear attack in B.C. was on Sept. 1, 2002, when an Alberta oil-rig worker was killed in northern B.C. by a black bear.
- In the 29 years between 1969 and 1997, 19 people were killed in B.C. due to encounters with bears. Seven deaths were attributed to grizzlies, five to black bears, and in the case of seven other deaths, the species was not specified.
- Attacks are most likely to occur when the bears are active -- usually from May to October and especially during August and September.
Source: B.C. Wildlife Branch
Ran with fact box "Fatal Attacks Rare", which has been appended to the end of the story.
Senior mauled by grizzly Last updated Oct 20 2005 03:41 PM PDT CBC News An elderly man has been flown to hospital in Vancouver with serious head injuries after being attacked by a grizzly bear near Bella Coola on B.C.'s Central Coast.
Conservation officer Doug Gillett says the 74-year-old man was mauled by a female bear while walking through a rural property on Wednesday night.
He says there were four bears in the area at the time – a sow and her three older offspring.
Gillett adds the man isn't the only one who's encountered the bears in the past day.
"We've been able to confirm at least four incidents where these bears have charged people, starting yesterday afternoon. And as late as 7:30 this morning they were charging people, and that was after the attack."
Conservation officers are trying to track down the aggressive bears, and Gillett says they'll probably have to be killed. He says the bears have been feeding on fruit trees in the area and don't seem to be scared of people anymore.
The mauling victim is expected to recover from his injuries.
From a very young age I was tought that one of the most important tools you can have in the bush (apart from a working brain) is a good rifle. And I believe that. But, something else I believe is respect for the wilds, and one of the things that enrages me the most is rediculous disregard for the wellbeing of animals. I have seen and heard of lots of people "shooting up the place" out there, to me this is dangerous and VERY immature. A rifle can do you lots of good, but you have to be respectful, and VERY responsible when you use any weapon. I witnessed four americans near Kettle Valley outside of Princeton shooting a moose over and over again, then simply cut of the antlers and leave the carcass there, I was disgusted to the point that I would of loved to take a potshot at them, but well, then I would be no more responsible than they. A big problewm with the woods is not a situation where you need to defend yourself, but most often someone inexperienced (the kind of people that take a lot of cotton clothes camping in a temperate rain forest come to mind) getting themselves in a bad situation. One of the reasons I love the "great outdoors" is becuase when I'm out there, I can be one with the elements, and there is little civilization near, so I can escape it all, so-to-speak. That same reason is why I caution people who go camping the way I have in the past, becuase when you walk into the bush, you are leaving behind much of what we sometimes rely on, the safety of 9-1-1, the warmth and shelter of a house, readily available water and food, etc. Just be careful out there folks, for you, and the environment.
I just picked up a nifty little hand held siren and microphone. It was in the bike dept. at Zellers. I figure good for call blasting OR scaring away things. I do carry a whistle but my own good voice is pretty darn loud (I'm operatically trained, ha ha). I can make people cringe and cover their ears if I really belt it out. I think I'll get me some bear spray too, it is pretty potent. And I always carry a knife as a survival tool that can't be equaled. I also like to carry a hefty stick when walking in the bush. Grabbing a big rock and using it as a weapon in an emergency is something to keep in mind. Only hunters in season can carry firearms in BC's forests.
Personally, if I feel the need to, I bring a rifle with me, in the woods I usually avoid other people like the plague, almost like our big hairy friend, so I'm not too concerned about running into fishery and game officials, or other enforcers. I don't believe in poaching, but I do believe in the right to protect myself and anyone I'm with. I miss having an active military I.D. It isn't so much a get away with anything pass, but if you want to be a jerk it can act as a get out of my face pass. Anyways, I recommend a bear scare launcher, bear spray, everyone should always have something to start a fire with (flint, lighter, etc), something to cut with (knife), and something to see with (flashlight), a machete is a good tool, and yes a rifle is advisable, but not always a nesessity, but a walking stick is good for tough terrain.
Yes, and I carry a candle stub to hold the flame. Around here most everything is wet and windy. I don't think you know this but I was survival trained by my African friends as a kid. I can flint knap if I have to, build a hut from trees, eat insects and lots of things people don't usually consider as food, fish, trap etc. I also have a built in compass in my head, I guess I got that from my mom. Lots of times I even can tell you what time it is without looking, and I can go by the sun/shadows. I use that ultimate survival tool, my brain. I also am a trained armed guard, so I can fight if I have to. I have an FAC/PAC for unrestricted weapons and the training to go with it but I follow the law.
Right now I'm repacking a back pack for hiking, so any good suggestions are welcome. I like the siren!
-layered clothing, long pants, good shoes/boots and socks, water and wind proof jacket -emergency foil blanket (I also carry a small hammock) -waterproof fire lighter -candle stub -flashlight and extra batteries for it -mirror for flashing signals (though building a few good fires is a no brainer) -bear spray -knife and wire saw -personal alarm or siren, whistle -small first aid kit with bandages, mole skin, alcohol swabs, betadine swab and a needle, tweezer for splinters -small quantity of tylenol 3/s in case you have to walk while in acute pain -water filtration/purification (I use an eyedropper of chlorine drops and a sip filter as back-up) -something to drink out of that you can boil water in (large enamel tin mug or small pot) -instant beverage/soup/porridge mix in case you get stuck somewhere and have to wait -emergency fishing/snare kit (hooks, a couple of weights, nylon cord and red wool), small folding sling shot -heavy duty tape -1/4 roll of toilet paper -small container of wet wipes -small container of dry handwash (also a good disinfectant) -small bar of soap or container of liquid soap
-wrapped power bars or a lunch that doesn't contain fish, mint or peanut butter (bear attractants) -enough water for the trip
Last Edit: Aug 1, 2008 13:37:08 GMT -5 by vilnoori
B.C. man comes out swinging in bear attack Warning: this story contains graphic details Last Updated: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | 9:43 PM ET Comments220Recommend191 CBC News Jim West needed 60 stitches on his head and body to close wounds from the bear attack. Jim West needed 60 stitches on his head and body to close wounds from the bear attack. (CBC)
A Cariboo, B.C., man who was attacked by a bear says he used a stick to put up the fight of his life after he realized he was likely in a fight to the death.
Jim West, 45, was out walking last Saturday morning with his two dogs near 70 Mile House, about halfway between Kamloops and Williams Lake, when he came face to face with an angry mother bear.
"I turned [when] I heard a grunt. All I saw was eyes full of hatred … I had no option … So I stuck my foot up and tried to kick her in the face," he said.
The bear then attacked him, knocking him to the ground, and West soon found himself on the losing side of an ill-matched fight.
"I rolled onto my stomach and clasped my hands at the back of my neck. She tore into my skull at the back of my head, moved over and bit me on the left side of my body, on my ribs and left arm," said West.
Knowing he would likely soon be dead unless he fought back, the injured West managed to get to his feet and picked up a stick about as thick as his arm. Bear's skull crushed
"I said, in effect, bring it on sweetie. I took one step forward — smash!" said West. Jim West demonstrates how he swung at the oncoming bear with a stick he grabbed off the ground. Jim West demonstrates how he swung at the oncoming bear with a stick he grabbed off the ground. (CBC)
"I swung the stick and broke it over her head. She kind of stood there and shook it off, like she was stunned," he said.
"I realized if I didn't continue the attack she would knock me to the ground again and I would not get up.
"I swung my piece of wood like a sledgehammer driving spikes and I kept swinging till she was lying flat on the ground and there was blood coming out of her nose," said West.
The five-foot-nine man eventually crushed the bear's skull with the stick, killing it.
West then walked a kilometre and a half to a local lodge, where he was transported to hospital. The gashes in his body took 60 stitches to sew up.
The incident surprised even conservation officers, who say West is lucky to be alive.
Unfortunately, two young bears had to be euthanized because they would not survive the winter without their mother, West said. And while he regrets the deaths of the three bears, he believes he did what he needed to do to survive.
"We should not allow possibilities to become assumptions!": John Green
Officials say the woman who was killed by a grizzly bear in Alberta Sunday was running on a trail the public had been told to avoid.
Isabelle Dube was running with two friends on the popular Bench Trail in Canmore, 90 kilometres west of Calgary, when they encountered the bear.
According to RCMP Cpl. Brad Freer, the trail had been subject to a voluntary closure dating as far back as April.
The restrictions were intended to protect a corridor used by roaming wildlife, but have been flouted by outdoor enthusiasts who have created hundreds of kilometres of informal trails throughout the area.
And that's where Dube and her companions were when they came across the attacking bear. While two of the three women ran to the nearby SilverTip Golf Course for help, Dube sought refuge in a tree.
But the 90-kilogram, four-year-old grizzly managed to drag Dube from the tree. The 35-year-old wife and mother of one young daughter was mauled to death.
Fish and wildlife officers later shot and killed the bear.
The bear, known to officials as No. 99, recently drew attention when it approached a Canmore woman. Following that encounter, the bear was relocated to the Carrot Creek area ear Banff National Park.
Since then, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development spokesperson David Ealey said his department had been tracking the bear with a GPS collar.
"This bear was not aggressive. It was basically behaving as a bear of its typical age and sex would," Ealey said.
"And we decided it was important to shift it into a place still within its home range," where a bear is more likely to find food.
But the grizzly found its way back to the SilverTip area, and was spotted on the links an hour before the deadly attack.
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development spokesperson Donna Babchishin told CTV.ca that bear-response experts consider several options after investigating a bear's behaviour.
"The range of options might involve leaving a bear in place, relocating it inside its range, relocating it outside its range, or putting the bear down," she said.
Ealey said they couldn't re-locate the bear to an area further away. If a bear is moved to unfamiliar territory too far from its home range, "it's likely to die."
A wildlife scientist said continuing to develop mountain communities like Canmore -- which is just outside the gates of Banff National Prk and is now home to some 13,000 people on once-prime wildlife habitat -- will inevitably lead to more confrontations between animals and humans.
"And so you get a situation like this where people get themselves into really difficult situations they don't understand, haven't thought about, and don't know how to deal with. And you see these kind of tragic consequences," Dr. Brian Horejsi told CTV's Calgary affiliate, CFCN News.
Ealey stressed that bears don't typically attack humans unless they're surprised.
"We should not allow possibilities to become assumptions!": John Green