A B.C. man is recounting a harrowing encounter with a grizzly bear that he narrowly escaped with his life.
It happened on Mother’s Day, when Alex Neumann stopped to visit an old fishing spot by Prince George near the Willow River.
He was standing, looking at the river, when suddenly a shadow loomed up behind him.
What Neumann didn’t yet know was that he had run into a mother grizzly and her three cubs.
“I didn’t even have a chance to turn around. She grabbed me by the shoulder, she picked me up off my feet, she threw me in the air like twice, back and forth, legs flying,” he said.
“I saw my life flash before me.”
Neumann said the bear tossed him into some nearby bushes, at which point the cubs came up to investigate.
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One of the cubs kept running back and forth between him and the mother bear — all while Neumann and the sow were locked in eye contact.
“Every time he did it, it was like her aggression built up so bad, her ears folded down, her eyes, they got different,” he said.
“I did everything I could to get out of the situation. I stood up, I walked away backward, I talked to her, I told her, ‘Hey mom, look, I’m not going to hurt your babies.'”
Neuman hiked his way back towards his truck — walking backwards — fearing all the way that if he tripped and fell he would be attacked by the bear that continued to follow him.
“I made it to my truck. I sat down my truck and I tried to get the key in the ignition. I couldn’t even do that. I couldn’t hold anything. I’m shaking so hard.”
Neumann drove himself to the Prince George hospital, where he received medical treatment.
Amazingly, aside from puncture wounds and a ripped shoulder, he escaped without critical injuries.
Neumann took pains to say he didn’t blame the bear, saying he was in “their backyard.”
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“What matters is that she’s still alive, the cubs are still alive, and for me that’s good enough.”
Sgt. Steve Ackles with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said officials received no official report about the incident, and have tried unsuccessfully several times to contact Neumann about his experience.
“We want to get that story from him directly. You know, what were these precursors to this,” he said.
“Is there something in that behaviour that we’re seeing in other incidences that we could provide the public, and saying, ‘You know, this is something, maybe avoid these areas.”
Ackles added that he’s concerned that Neumann may not have reported the incident because of a fear that the COS would kill the sow.
“It’s very important that people do report it, and certainly isn’t the case that we, if a bear attacks somebody, we’re going to go out and look to destroy or euthanize it. That is simply not the case,” Ackels said.
Ackles said that is particularly the case with grizzly attacks, noting that the majority of such incidents are defensive on the part of the bear and have not resulted in the animals being killed.
He said the hesitance to call officials about bears could actually harm them because while they may not be problem bears yet, not reporting incidents prevents COs from intervening before the animals do become problems.