‘I thought I was gone’: N.B. man survives a bear attack outside his home

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New Brunswick man attacked by bear in backyard
WATCH: Bear attacks are very rare. Even more rare is being attacked in your own backyard. But that’s what happened to a New Brunswick man not once, but twice this week. Suzanne Lapointe has more on the harrowing encounters. – Apr 22, 2022

A New Brunswick man says he feared for his life when a black bear attacked him outside his home on Thursday night.

“I’ve never felt so scared in my life,” said Paul Williams.

“When I called 911, the operator, I had to leave a message because I thought this was going to be my last time that I was talking to my wife.”

Williams has lived in his Beaubassin East home for 27 years, and nothing like this has ever happened before. Beaubassin East is located in southern N.B., about 25 minutes from Moncton.

He said he first saw the bear last week, and it tried to attack him once before Thursday night.

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On Tuesday, he saw the bear and her cubs in the woods behind his home.

Williams believes the bear was just being protective when it began approaching him on Tuesday. He called 911 for help.

“She was standing on her back legs. She’s about eight feet in height. She weighs about 450 pounds,” he estimated.

“The noise that she made when she came after me, when I saw her, the size of her paws. I mean, I was frightened. I was scared. I was crying. I’ve never seen a bear that close in front of me.

“I don’t know who’s praying for me, but the wind stopped and then the bear just turned away. I ran and the cops arrived,” he said.

On Thursday afternoon, he saw the bear again and called the Department of Natural Resources, which responded and dropped off a bear trap in his backyard.

Later that night, around 10:30 p.m., Williams was cleaning his property when the bear surprised him.

As the bear attacked Williams, he said it gouged him.

“She got me in the face, she got me on my arm.”

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Williams shows scars from the bear attack on his face and arm. Suzanne Lapointe / Global News
Williams shows scars from the bear attack on his face and arm. Suzanne Lapointe / Global News

Williams said he had a knife in his pocket and was able to stab the bear in its side while it was on top of him.

“I was protecting myself,” he said, adding he also grabbed a wooden pallet to shield himself.

With wounds about half an inch deep, he said he was covered in blood.

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Williams used to be an ambulance attendant for the Moncton City Hospital, so he was able to address his wounds, though he is going to the hospital to ensure there’s no infection.

He and his wife are preparing to sell their home so more work needs to be done around the property. But Williams said he’s now living in fear.

“I’m still scared. I don’t feel safe,” he said. “I can still hear her growl. I can see her face. I mean, the teeth, I mean, it’s a beast.”

Williams, though, doesn’t blame the bear.

“She was protecting her cubs. It’s their territory, we’re just in it, and she was just doing what she usually does.”

The bear trap still sits in his backyard, loaded with food, waiting for the bear to be caught.

The Department of Natural Resources confirmed to Global News the department was made aware of a black bear sighting in the Grand Barachois area.

“If a bear finds a food source ie: garbage, bird feeders, compost bins, barbecue grills, pet food, etc. it will likely return,” read an email from DNR.

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“There are a number of steps homeowners can take to help avoid encounters and problems with black bears,” it read, attaching a link to an online brochure with advice.

“Anyone who encounters an aggressive bear, has a recurring or persistent nuisance problem, or suffers property damage from a black bear is advised to contact the local office of the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development.”

Williams said he is committed to moving forward after the incident and will see a mental health counsellor.

“I don’t have any PTSD, not that I know of, but it’s still scary,” he said. “I try to listen to music to get this all out of the way.”

Now he has a message to share with New Brunswickers.

“People, be careful, do not leave trash outside. I used to do that and now, well, I’m a victim.”

— with files from Suzanne Lapointe

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