B.C. man says he won deadly fight with black bear
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Wednesday, October 8, 2008 11:55PM PDT
A B.C. man found himself in a deadly fight with a black bear, and had to kill the large animal to escape with his life. The attack left him with deep gashes in his head that required more than 60 stitches.
Jim West, 45, was walking with his two dogs near 70 Mile House -- about halfway between Kamloops and Williams Lake -- when his dogs reacted to a noise in the woods.
"All of a sudden I heard a 'whoof' on my right and I looked over and there was a bear six feet away from me," he said.
West knew right away he was in serious danger.
"Just one look at that bear and I knew she meant business," he said.
"The bear rose at the same time as my foot went up. I'm not sure if it was her teeth or her claws that caught me in my upper lip."
That's when West was knocked down. He rolled onto his stomach and clasped his hands around his neck to protect his throat.
"She then tore a chunk out my scalp, bit me in my left arm and ribs," West said.
The Caribou man credits his dogs for drawing the bear away, giving him a chance to defend himself. When he turned to stand up, the bear -- apparently a mother -- swatted him in the right arm and bit him again. Knowing he would likely die unless he put up a fight, the bleeding West summoned the strength to get on his feet and picked up a stick about as thick as his arm.
"The bear was running at me full tilt," he said. "I swung the stick and hit her right between the ears and it stopped her dead in her tracks.
West says the initial hit stunned the bear, but he realized the animal would attack again if he didn't keep up the fight.
"I knew if I went down a third time I wouldn't get up again," said West.
"I pretended I was driving spikes with a sledgehammer, and I didn't stop until that bear went down and I saw blood coming out her nose."
After West crushed the bear's skull, he dropped the stick and wrapped his shirt around his head to stop the profuse bleeding. He then walked to a nearby lodge, where he was taken to hospital for dozens of stitches.
Matter of survival
Conservation officers found the bear three hours later, and confirmed the bear's injuries. West says fighting back was a matter of survival.
"Most people would be so scared that they would just stay on the ground and let the bear chew on them, but I have a bit of a temper that I try to stay on top of," he said.
But also West blames himself for the attack, saying the bear was just following its instincts when it attacked.
"With my experience in the woods, I know bears are out foraging in the fall, but with the wind in the face, I know he couldn't smell me or hear me," he said. "I know that people should be prepared when they go out."