Hank Shelley

Column: Reaction time to bears

There was recently another grizzly bear attack, this time involving a hunter in the east Kootenays.

No doubt he came across a mom with cubs. The bear’s natural maternal instinct was to protect the cubs. Mr. Blackmore was fortunate he only came out of the attack with severe bites (wounds) on his legs, etc.

The East Kootenay has the largest concentration of the big bruins in B.C. Bush-wise hunters living in that region are aware of the situation, and with a expanding grizzly population, prepare themselves, by reading up on recent bear activity where they hunt – and pack bear spray. But over years of time, many bears have attuned themselves to an easy meal. This being the innards of a freshly harvested deer/moose/elk. It is a custom now, that one hunter stand by with loaded rifle while his partner clean the animal.

Bears relate the sound of a rifle shot to a dinner bell.

Years back, a harrowing experience awaited a young gal, pacing back and forth in the camper as her husband and a partner lay dying in the snow, atop a rugged mountain peak back and beyond Raven’s Head in the Kootenays. It was late in the afternoon and snowing when they harvested a bull elk. Placing their rifles against trees, they began to dress out the animal. Unfortunately, a grizzly was on the scree slopes below. On hearing the shot, the bear attacked, wanting the elk. The reaction time to get to their rifles was too late and, as the helicopter hovered over the site the next morning, with conservation officers aboard, the bear was shot and a rescue team retrieved the bodies.

While still working, a group of us fishery officers had gathered at the Lillooet community hall as Gary Shelton began instruction on bear behavior, including tactics to avoid attack, reaction time if being attacked and what to do in an attack.

The final scenario of the day was each officer being pepper sprayed. This was with our own issue (the human kind), to be used in a take down situation.

Bear spray, is a restricted product, containing 0.75 per cent capsaicin.

Fishery officers are more prone to bear attack as each fall throughout the province, hundreds of streams must be walked to count spawning salmon entering their natal streams. Tally’s are recorded and, historically, runs are tabulated. Each spring, during qualifications, officers must be proficient in the use of issue firearms, including shotguns.

While walking the Wap Creek/Hunakwa Creek (Anstey Arm, Shuswap Lake) counting coho, we had the shotgun ready as fresh bear track was evident and the smell of bear scented the heavy cedar/hemlock along the trail. Large tracks, the long claws evident, showed buddy the big bear was close by.

Many years ago, while still operating Postill Lake fishing lodge, we always saw a big ’ol bruin feeding on grass on a landing come spring. Folks would stop and admire him. While checking a new large man-made reservoir Otto Hemmerling and John the backhoe operator stopped at the lodge for lunch break. They talked on seeing the bear break ice for a drink at the lake. John said what would we do if the big guy charged. Otto said he’d climb a tree. The only tree. John said he’d beat Otto up the tree.

Now that’s reaction time.

Just Posted

Man in custody linked to Silver Creek property search

Police are not saying how this search is related to Wayne Curtis Sagmoen’s current criminal charges

Day 2 of RCMP search at Silver Creek residence

Police use backhoe in ongoing search effort at residential/agricultural Salmon River Road property

Residents pay tribute to city’s homeless

He was articulate and well-spoken. He was great at self-reflection. He liked watching the Canucks. And more often than not, he lived at the Howard House Men’s Shelter.

Controlled burns no cause for concern

Annual clean-up by forestry companies includes burning debris from logging activity

A wrap for Friday

Catch up on a selection of local stories from the past week

Mixing up local talent and cocktails

The annual Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff takes place in Kelowna in November

Symphony trumpets in new season

Kamloops Symphony makes first appearance of the 2017-18 season in Salmon Arm

Column: Back to the land in the 21st century

By Jim Cooperman, Observer columnist There is a slowly growing movement back… Continue reading

Column: Sockeye fisheries hinder recovery

While driving to the Coast a few weeks ago, the last week… Continue reading

Friends & Neighbours: Sewing their patriotism

By Leah Blain, Observer columnist The red walls were the perfect background.… Continue reading

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Residents pay tribute to city’s homeless

He was articulate and well-spoken. He was great at self-reflection. He liked watching the Canucks. And more often than not, he lived at the Howard House Men’s Shelter.

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Most Read