A B.C. man was lounging in a hot tub near Whistler Village Sunday when he was smacked from behind by a black bear, the latest in a string of bear attacks and sightings across Canada in the past month.
The man, who has not been named, yelled at the bear and ran inside to call police. Officers responded and shot the animal.
The 55-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C., was relaxing behind a home in a townhouse complex near a wooded area, said Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair with the Whistler detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “The guy was sitting … with his back to the forest, then all of a sudden he felt a heavy blow to the back of his head. And he turned around and saw himself face to face with a bear,” said the Mountie.
The incident was the first unprovoked bear attack in the area in the past five years.
“This type of incident is really rare,” Staff Sgt. LeClair said.
But black bears appear to be popping up in unusual places across Canada lately.
Also on the weekend, a black bear in Kamloops, B.C., had to be euthanized after it ate the body of a man who died on a remote logging road. Investigators say the animal pulled the corpse out of the car and ate part of it, before burying the rest. The bear was put down because it had lost its fear of humans, said Terry Lake, the B.C. Environment Minister.
Last month, a black bear attacked Gordon Shurvell of Winnipeg while he was sitting in an outhouse at a campsite in Sioux Lookout, Ont.
The man said he tried to scare the animal off by kicking and jabbing the bear’s nose, but was impeded because his pants were around his ankles. The bear dragged him for 15 metres before his friend managed to shoot the animal in the head.
“I knew, with this bear, he means business,” Mr. Survell told the Winnipeg Free Press.
On May 7, a black bear was seen on Gabriola Island, squashing the B.C. community’s reputation as a bear-free zone. Two days later, a black bear that had become accustomed to eating garbage in West Kelowna, B.C., was shot dead.
Black bears have also been spotted recently in suburban neighbourhoods in Ontario and Alberta.
These include a 180-kilogram bear, shot dead in Burlington; three separate sightings of a black bear in Milton; and a 136-kg black bear, shot dead in Canmore, Alta., after being spotted in town a dozen times.
Bear sightings and attacks in Canada are rare, as the animals’ natural instinct is to avoid people. But bruin activity tends to spike at this time of year when they wake from hibernation and try to refuel, said Dave Cox, a conservation officer with the B.C. Ministry of Environment.
The level of bear activity in B.C. so far this year has been “low to normal,” he said.
There are about 380,000 black bears and 26,000 grizzly bears in Canada, according to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Half of them live in British Columbia.
Since 2000, 14 people have been killed by grizzly, black or brown bear attacks in Canada.