Hank Shelley

Column: Reaction time to bears

There was recently another grizzly bear attack, this time involving a hunter in the east Kootenays.

No doubt he came across a mom with cubs. The bear’s natural maternal instinct was to protect the cubs. Mr. Blackmore was fortunate he only came out of the attack with severe bites (wounds) on his legs, etc.

The East Kootenay has the largest concentration of the big bruins in B.C. Bush-wise hunters living in that region are aware of the situation, and with a expanding grizzly population, prepare themselves, by reading up on recent bear activity where they hunt – and pack bear spray. But over years of time, many bears have attuned themselves to an easy meal. This being the innards of a freshly harvested deer/moose/elk. It is a custom now, that one hunter stand by with loaded rifle while his partner clean the animal.

Bears relate the sound of a rifle shot to a dinner bell.

Years back, a harrowing experience awaited a young gal, pacing back and forth in the camper as her husband and a partner lay dying in the snow, atop a rugged mountain peak back and beyond Raven’s Head in the Kootenays. It was late in the afternoon and snowing when they harvested a bull elk. Placing their rifles against trees, they began to dress out the animal. Unfortunately, a grizzly was on the scree slopes below. On hearing the shot, the bear attacked, wanting the elk. The reaction time to get to their rifles was too late and, as the helicopter hovered over the site the next morning, with conservation officers aboard, the bear was shot and a rescue team retrieved the bodies.

While still working, a group of us fishery officers had gathered at the Lillooet community hall as Gary Shelton began instruction on bear behavior, including tactics to avoid attack, reaction time if being attacked and what to do in an attack.

The final scenario of the day was each officer being pepper sprayed. This was with our own issue (the human kind), to be used in a take down situation.

Bear spray, is a restricted product, containing 0.75 per cent capsaicin.

Fishery officers are more prone to bear attack as each fall throughout the province, hundreds of streams must be walked to count spawning salmon entering their natal streams. Tally’s are recorded and, historically, runs are tabulated. Each spring, during qualifications, officers must be proficient in the use of issue firearms, including shotguns.

While walking the Wap Creek/Hunakwa Creek (Anstey Arm, Shuswap Lake) counting coho, we had the shotgun ready as fresh bear track was evident and the smell of bear scented the heavy cedar/hemlock along the trail. Large tracks, the long claws evident, showed buddy the big bear was close by.

Many years ago, while still operating Postill Lake fishing lodge, we always saw a big ’ol bruin feeding on grass on a landing come spring. Folks would stop and admire him. While checking a new large man-made reservoir Otto Hemmerling and John the backhoe operator stopped at the lodge for lunch break. They talked on seeing the bear break ice for a drink at the lake. John said what would we do if the big guy charged. Otto said he’d climb a tree. The only tree. John said he’d beat Otto up the tree.

Now that’s reaction time.

Just Posted

Province partners with Columbia Basin Trust for new affordable housing

Goal is to create 225 affordable rental units in the Columbia Basin area

Glimpses of the Past

A look back through the archives from WWII airmen spending the holidays to human-cougar encounters

CP Rail Holiday train stops in Revelstoke

Brings a dose of holiday spirit and funds for the local food bank

Turn it up

RAC asks council for summer Street Festival funding increase to hire sound technician

City of Revelstoke passes fire services bylaw

We are doing our end of the paperwork to be ready just in case this comes to fruition: mayor

Holiday Train rolls through the Shuswap

Hundreds of people have gathered in Sicamous, Canoe and Salmon Arm for… Continue reading

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

Most Read