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

Outbreak at Okanagan hospital

Gastrointestinal illness reported at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

Secondary school ranks first in national competition

A local high school’s work in post-secondary preparedness has garnered national recognition

Dedicated volunteers look for clues

Police appreciate work of those who provide extra eyes for missing women investigations.

Dueck answers Hall’s call

Vernon’s Josh Dueck elected to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame

Big Band supports children with disabilities in Lake Country

Proceeds from the Okanagan Big Band performance in Vernon supports local kids

Christmas spirit rounded up at Ranch

O’Keefe Ranch celebrates the season with Victorian Christmas

Choir presents a cozy collection of Christmas tunes

Tapestry Women’s Choir and Fireflies Children’s Choir take the Armstrong Bible Chapel stage Dec. 16

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

Vernon Off Road Motorcycle Club looks back at 2017 season

Half Throttle, Great Trails, highlight 2017 season

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Worship night celebrates with Christmas concert

Hear The Music is back with a Christmas concert Dec. 17 at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre

Armstrong purse project puts women first

When money is tight, even the essentials can become luxury items

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Most Read