‘It was life or death’: Runner chased by black bear on North Shore trail
A North Shore man is grateful to be alive after being chased by a black bear while running on a popular trail Monday morning.
Christopher Lubell, 35, was doing his morning run near the Cleveland dam in Capilano River Regional Park when he encountered the bear on the busy trail, sitting on its haunches.
He originally thought it was a large dog – but quickly realized his mistake.
“I just started booking it the other way… but you’re not supposed to turn your back on a bear and run, because they are much faster than you,” he said, noting that’s when the bear began chasing him.
“It’s a pretty intimidating sight when you see a 400-pound bear running after you on its hind legs.”
Lubell realized he wasn’t going to be able to outrun the bear, and so he tried a different tactic.
“I turned around and stood my ground,” Lubell said. ‘It was the only thing to do, stand your ground and be as big as possible, and as loud and ugly as possible so the bear doesn’t view you as a morsel.”
He was followed by the bear for several kilometres, and at times it came so close to him it touched him with its snout. At one point Lubell fell, scraping his arms and legs.
Emergency crews were called to the scene after reports of a man screaming around 9:30 a.m., and rushed to help. By then the bear had left the area, and Lubell was escorted to safety.
“They heard me screaming and they thought I was being mauled,” said Lubell. “But I was just asserting my dominance over the bear instinctively, and that was the only thing really that was my saving grace.”
Lubell lives in the area, and says he runs the trail nearly every week.
“I’ve been doing this for six or seven years and I’ve never seen a bear,” he said. “It’s a huge lesson learned… If you’re running out there alone carry some bear mace for sure, just have some kind of deterrence, because you never know.”
He is grateful to emergency crews, Lubell added, and to the people who called police.
“I want to say thank you to them one day, if I ever meet them,” he said. “I feel really fortunate that I’m still in one piece… it was a life and death situation for me for sure.”
BC Conservation officer Jack Trudgian says his team scoured the area looking for the bear.
“We didn’t find the bear, but we’re going to set up a trap and see if we can capture it,” he said.
“We’re not sure what we’re going to do with the bear, we need to look at the history of bears in this area and see if this bear has done this before.”
Monday was garbage day in the area, Trudgian adds, which could have attracted the bear.
“It’s a problem that needs to be addressed, we need to sort out where we can get some secure garbage bins,” he said, noting that in the interim he’s hoping the public will make sure to only put their garbage out in the morning versus the night before.
Freezing smelly food waste such as chicken bones the night before garbage day can also help keep bears away.
“Bears can smell food up to five kilometres away. If there’s garbage out, we’re going to expect bears will be out in the area.”
If you see a bear, never run away. Bear protocol varies depending on the situation and species; check out BC Parks wildlife guide for more information.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst