May 18, 2014 2:12 pm

‘I had no time to react… it was swiping at me': Calling Lake bear attack victim

Watch above: A Calling Lake man is sharing his story of survival after being attacked by a bear Friday evening. Quinn Ohler reports.

WARNING: Some of the pictures in this story may be disturbing to some readers.

EDMONTON – A Calling Lake man who says he was attacked by a bear Friday night is sharing his survival story.

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Justin Gambler says he was riding an ATV near his father’s cabin around sunset when he stopped to have a cigarette. That’s when he saw what he believes to be a young black bear come out of nowhere.

“I had no time to react when it attacked me,” he said.

“I kind of moved out of the way and it was swiping at me.”

READ MORE: Gambler’s bear attack claim unfounded: Alberta Fish and Wildlife

Gambler says he was able to get away from the bear and run to a nearby highway where he was picked up by a group of hunters. STARS Air Ambulance then transported the man to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.

“You couldn’t really recognize his face on the one side, it was full of blood,” said Gambler’s father, Jack Cardinal. “I just wanted him to make it to the hospital, make sure he was okay.”

Gambler was released from hospital Saturday afternoon. His injuries were non-life-threatening, but he received 27 stitches to his right eye. The majority of his injuries were to the right side of his body.

The apparent attack comes less than two weeks after a Suncor employee was killed by a black bear while on the job at the company’s oilsands site just north of Fort McMurray. Fort McMurray resident Lorna Weafer reportedly came face to face with the bear shortly after coming out of a washroom at the company’s oil sands base plant, located about 25 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

READ MORE: Family of bear attack victim responds to her ‘sudden and tragic’ death

Experts say black bears rarely account for deaths, and when they do attack it’s almost always because they’re hungry.

“In these predacious incidents that’s how they behave, they are so focused, they’ll ignore other people, they’ll ignore even being shot at,” said bear expert Stephen Herrero.

As for Gambler, he says he’ll be more aware when he heads out near the cabin in the future.

“I’m going to be stopping trapping and hunting now that the incident happened because it just took a big toll on me. I might still go quadding, but I won’t go too far.”

With files from Quinn Ohler, Global News.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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