Sask. photographer encounters bear on Waskesiu Lake Trail

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan photographer encounters bear on Waskesiu Lake Trail'
Saskatchewan photographer encounters bear on Waskesiu Lake Trail
WATCH: A photographer in the Waskesiu area was taking pictures of a bear when the animal started getting a little too close for comfort. – Jun 9, 2022

When Curtis Matwishyn headed out for another day of photographing wildlife in Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert National Park, he never expected this.

“I would estimate that I’ve encountered over 100 bears in the wilderness when I’ve been on the job or out shooting photos and this is the first time I’ve been on foot, on a trail, that I’ve met a truly habituated bear that basically had no fear of people anymore,” Matwishyn said.

Matwishyn first saw the young black bear when driving. He decided to pull over and walk down the trail – hoping to get some pictures of it.

The bear was about 100 metres away when Matwishyn pulled out his camera.

“It gave me a look and sniff in the air and it started walking towards my direction on the trail,” Matwishyn said. “It was not a run or anything, it was slowly walking down the trail and sniffing some trees.”

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Jasper National Park warns of grizzly bears wandering into townsite

Once the bear was 40 metres away, Matwishyn put his camera away and brought his bear spray out.

“I started to loudly say ‘hey bear, hey bear’ trying to identify myself as a person but it wasn’t fazed at all,” Matwishyn said.

He remained calm and started walking backwards towards his car but the bear kept following.

Matwishyn then pulled the trigger on his bear spray which worked as designed.

Click to play video: 'Charges pending against B.C. man accused of feeding black bears'
Charges pending against B.C. man accused of feeding black bears

“The bear is of concern for us,” said Dustin Guedo, Prince Albert National Park ecologist. “It’s definitely unusual behavior.”

Park employees are on the lookout for the bear and are attempting trapping efforts. In the meantime, they’re using this situation as an educational opportunity.

Story continues below advertisement

“If you see a bear, give it as much space as you can,” Guedo said. “If people see bears, we ask that they never get closer than 100 metres. These are wild animals, there is no fence.”

Read more: Bear dodges pedestrians, cars in a dash through Kelowna, B.C.

He also recommends that people hike in groups and carry bear spray – something Matwishyn says he’s glad he had on him.

“Make noise when you’re hiking, don’t feed the wildlife, this is the kind of behavior you can expect if bears do get fed,” Matwishyn said.

Sponsored content