VICTORIA, British Columbia – Salmon fishermen are no longer throwing fish guts on shore for black bears around Port Renfrew, British Columbia after one climbed onto a dock, jumped into a man’s boat and mauled him.
“All the bears in Port Renfrew are pretty docile,” said Fire Chief Dan Tennant. “They’re more afraid of people than people are of them and normally turn and high-tail it when they see people."
He said he first thought the bear attack call received by his department and an ambulance crew was a “miscommunication.”
“But sure enough when we got on scene there was a man who had some deep lacerations on his right shoulder and scratches all over his body,” said Tennant.
The man was conscious and in shock, but that his wounds did not appear to be life threatening, he said.
Authorities said the man, 52, was a resident of Saltspring Island and was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in Victoria, about 70 kilometres east of the community.
Gordon Hitchcock, a B.C. conservation officer, said the bear swam across Gordon River and climbed onto a dock before jumping into the man’s boat and mauling him.
Witnesses told him it was difficult to get the bear off the victim.
”Individuals that came to the aid of the victim used a combination of (fishing) gaffs, knives and a hammer to remove or pull the bear off the victim,” he said.
The man’s friends managed to kill the bear, said Tennant.
The area is popular with recreational fishermen seeking salmon, halibut and groundfish and there are a “couple of hundred” boats tied up at the marina at any given time.
Tennant said it was not a large bear, but the incident was extremely unusual.“Never, ever have I heard of anything like that here, and I doubt I ever will again,” he said.
He said there have been large numbers of black bear and deer in the area this summer, but there have been no incidents/People have been throwing fish remains on to the shore for years, and that has to stop, he said.
“They’ve all been told, now, not to do that anymore,” he said.
A necropsy on the bear was conducted Wednesday by provincial veterinarian Helen Schwantje in Nanaimo.
“Initial findings indicate that it was a very old bear in very poor health,” said Environment Ministry spokeswoman Kate Thompson.