Two men escaped injury following separate bear attacks in the Revelstoke area last week.
The first incident was on Saturday, Sept. 19, at around 8:30 p.m. when a CP Rail worker was attacked while working on the tracks seven kilometres east of town.
Conservation Officer Jared Connatty said the man was working in a 10-ton service truck when he got out and walked to the rear of the vehicle. “As he approached the rear of the vehicle he heard a sound on the bush side of the tracks,” said Connatty. The man saw a cub on top of the embankment, then the mother below.
“She charged at him and struck him. He punched the bear on top of the head with his fists,” said Connatty. “As he was being knocked down, he was able to regain his footing, jump onto the service deck of the truck, run along the truck and jump into the cabin.”
Connatty said the incident was unusual because bears tend to flee busy, noisy areas, but in this case the animal may have become habituated to the noise. He added the attack did not appear to be predatory and they had no intention of killing the animal.
“What we do know is it’s a non-predatory incident because if she wanted to follow through, she had all the opportunity to do so and didn’t,” he said,.
The second incident occurred in the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 20, when a man was attacked while walking his dog west of Revelstoke.
According to the man’s daughter, he was walking his dog along the railway tracks in the West Revelstoke area, towards the pole yard, when the attack happened.
She said her father just spotted a bear cub when he was charged at by the mother. What happens next is unclear as the victim was knocked out, however it appears the bear was chased away by the man’s dog.
Connatty said the incident was investigated, however no signs of any bears were detected in the immediate area of the attack, though bear sightings have been reported nearby. “That specific site, we didn’t recover any bear scat, we didn’t recover any bear tracks and the canine unit deployed would detect if there’s a bear in the area,” he said.
The two attacks coincide with a spike in bear incidents in Revelstoke. Sue Davies, the coordinator for Bear Aware, said she received three reports recently of bears acting aggressively. One involved a bear slowly chasing a jogger, another involved a bluff charge, and a third involved a bear defending a pile of garbage.
“We’ve seen very little this summer but there may be a little wild food gap and the bears are in that phase where they’re really desperate for food,” she said. “It’s not surprising but it’s important to make sure it doesn’t get to the point where the bears are defending our garbage.”