coming back alive
pic
head
When Travelling in the Great Outdoors

Part of the allure of travelling in North America's great outdoors is the opportunity to get in close contact with nature.

It is important to remember however, that animals pose a unique threat to people when out in the wilderness, as their behaviour is difficult to predict and a confrontation is sometimes unavoidable.

Know the risks posed by animals in the wild, as well as the proper steps to take when faced with an angry or hungry animal, to ensure that you don't end up on the wrong side of the food chain. Read on to find out the best ways to co-exist problem-free with our animal friends.

Lynn Rogers is a top North American expert on bears and bear safety.
Why You Should Know About Bears

Bears are beautiful and majestic animals that can be found all across North America. However, they can be a very real threat for anyone living or traveling outdoors.

While bears are not normally dangerous animals, they are very opportunistic and will eat practically anything they can get at. This is why it is important to understand the threat posed by a bear encounter, and what you should do should you find yourself in a dangerous situation.

Knowing the type of bear you are facing will help you determine what action to take!

Lucky To Be Alive

Second Lieutenant Jason Sansom of the Canadian Air Force and his wife, Jamie, were visiting Glacier National Park for their first time in June 2000. The couple went for a hike down one of the many trails the park offers when they noticed two bears walking along the same path about 15 yards ahead of them.

“All four of us - my wife Jamie and I and the two bears - were spread out in different directions,” Sansom said. “Jamie and I were hiding behind a tree. One of the bears seemed to stalk us somewhat - it seemed more curious than anything else. I was surprised when it stuck around.”

grizzly
Sansom was behind a V-shaped tree, but the bear was on the other side. The lieutenant said he wished he had known about bear spray then because it would’ve been the perfect time to use it without injuring himself. For almost five minutes, Sansom and the bear went around the tree as it tried to get him, and at one point it did.

“It got my leg, but it only got my blue jeans,” Sansom said.

His wife, who was nearby, was able to throw something near the bear, taking it by surprise and making it back off. As it did, Sansom said he was able to find a better spot for more protection.

The bear stalked Sansom at his new spot for 10 more agonizing minutes when suddenly it charged at him.

“At that point, I dropped to the ground and went into the fetal position,” he said. “I made sure I gave myself the best chance for survival. I didn’t let it have a chance to get any of my fingers; I gave it the outer part of my arm instead of the inner part of my arm.”

“It started walking around me, smelling me, licking me and then it started biting my arms,” Sansom said. “The bites weren’t that severe at first, not very much blood or very much pain, but they got harder and harder.”

After seeing her husband being toyed with by the bear, Jamie knew there was nothing she could do and ran back down the trail for help.

As the bear’s bites got harder and harder, Sansom’s strength was getting weaker.

“I couldn’t take the pain anymore so I tried to find something to do,” he said. “I got my car keys out of my pocket and put them on my fingers kind of like a knife. I struck at it. That took the bear by surprise and it backed up about 10 to 15 yards.”

This distance was all he needed to find safety again behind more trees. Sansom said the bear had an on-again, off-again curiosity toward him. The bear would walk toward him, then go away and look up a tree or scratch some bark off a tree, he recalled.

“It eventually got to the point where it went about 40 yards away from me down the trail and pointed in the opposite direction,” he said. “I figured that was my best opportunity, and I just ran.”

Sansom said he was fortunate to have kept his wits about him the entire time, and park officials said that’s the right thing to do. They said to always keep a “cool” head and keep calm.

“At no point did I think I was going to die,” Sansom said. “I was just trying to be resourceful and trying to do the best thing for the two of us (Jamie and him), and when Jamie left, for my own safety.”

Sansom suffered from almost a dozen cuts on his arms and bruises on his chest.

Polar Bears
polar bear

Colour: White or yellowish

Height: Approximately 5 feet to the shoulder

Weight: 400 to 500 kg for male bears. Females are usually smaller.

Characteristics: Long neck, long narrow head and long legs. Polar bears are excellent swimmers and can stay under water for 2 minutes.

Habitat: Found along the world's arctic seas and coastal lines, and as far south as the mouth of Hudson's Bay.

A Deadly Attack

On July 9, 1999, Hattie Amitnak lost her life, and Moses Aliyak was severely mauled as they confronted a polar bear that was attacking their family at Corbett Inlet, Nunavut.

bear

While camping on Hudson Bay, Mr. Aliyak and his grandson were trying to retrieve a boat when they encountered a two-metre high polar bear on the shore. Mr.Aliyak distracted the bear by throwing rocks and yelling at it as the young boy ran back to the tent. The boy escaped but the animal attacked Mr. Aliyak, inflicting severe cuts to his head and face.

Horrified, 60-year-old Hattie Amitnak raced out of the tent and confronted the bear to allow Mr. Aliyak to seek refuge and help the others to escape. After wounding another boy's head, the bear attacked Mrs. Amitnak and mauled her to death. Mr. Aliyak and the boy were airlifted to the hospital and recovered from their injuries.
Interesting Bear Facts

Bears are as fast as racehorses on the flats, uphill or downhill.

Bears are strong swimmers.

Bears have good eyesight, good hearing, and an acute sense of smell.

All black bears and young grizzlies are agile tree climbers; mature grizzlies are poor climbers, but they have a reach up to 4 metres.

If a bear is standing up it is usually trying to identify you. Talk softly so it knows you are not threatening. Move away, keeping it in view. Do not make direct eye contact.

feeding a bear
Bears that are food conditioned have lost their natural fear of humans.
Bear Danger: Food Conditioning

Bears may be met throughout the summer months. Although most bears are simply traveling through and make every effort to avoid humans, a bag of garbage or some unattended food on a picnic table may be irresistible to their keen sense of smell.

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become "food-conditioned". Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to park visitors as they roam through the park in search of an easy meal. Bears are not tame, gentle or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. 

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear and Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans. Don't be a contributor to food- conditioning and remember...

A FED BEAR IS A DEAD BEAR!

There are some simple precautions you must take to prevent the food-conditioning of bears and avoid dangerous bear encounters while camping.

  • Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife.
  • Reduce or eliminate odours that attract bears. If camping, store food in air-tight containers in your RV or car trunk.
  • Bear caches must be used if they are available at the park.
  • Pack out all your garbage. Store garbage with your food, out of reach of bears. Do not bury garbage or throw it into pit toilets. Only paper and wood may be burned: plastics, tinfoil, and food items do not burn completely and the remains will attract bears (besides creating an unsightly mess).
  • Avoid fish smells -- they are a strong attractant for bears. Don’t clean fish in your campsite. Throw entrails into deep or fast-flowing water, and double-bag fishy-smelling garbage.
  • Cook and eat well away from your tent.
    • Clean up immediately and thoroughly. Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease or dish water lying around. Dispose of dish water by straining it and then throwing it into a gray water pit or pit toilet. Solids should be packed out with the garbage.

    • The odours of cosmetics, toothpaste and insect repellent can attract bears. These should be stored out of reach with your food and garbage, never in your tent. Leave strongly perfumed items at home.

  • Always keep children nearby and in sight.

  • Always sleep in a tent -- not under the stars.

  • Hike the portages and trails as a group.

    • Solo hiking is not advised -- you reduce the risk of an attack by traveling together as a group. Do not let children wander.
  • Keep pets leashed.
    • If possible, keep pets at home.  Free-running pets can anger a bear and provoke an attack.
  • Reduce the chance of surprising a bear.
    • <p>Always check ahead for bears in the distance. If one is spotted, make a wide detour and leave the area immediately.
    • Make warning noises and loud sounds.

    • Watch for bear signs: tracks, droppings, overturned rocks, rotten trees torn apart, clawed, bitten or rubbed trees, bear trails, fresh diggings or trampled vegetation.

  • Stay clear of dead wildlife.

    • Take note of signs that may indicate carrion - such as circling crows or ravens, or the smell of rotting meat.

    • Carcasses attract bears. Leave the area immediately!

    • Report the location of dead wildlife to Park staff.

What To Do If..

I SEE A BEAR

If It Does Not Approach

  • If spotted in the distance, do not approach the bear. Make a wide detour or leave the area immediately. Report your sighting at the first opportunity. 
  • If you are at close range, do not approach the bear. Remain calm, keep it in view.  Avoid direct eye contact.  Move away without running. 

If the Bear Approaches

  • If the bear is standing up, it is usually trying to identify you. Talk softly so it knows what you are.  If it is snapping its jaws, lowering its head, flattening its ears, growling or making 'woofing' noises, it is displaying aggression.
  • Do not run unless you are very close to a secure place.  Move away, keeping it in view.  Avoid direct eye contact.  Dropping your pack or an object may distract it to give you more time. 

  • If it is a grizzly, consider climbing a tree. 

If the Bear Attacks

  • Your response depends on the species and whether the bear is being defensive or offensive.  Bears sometimes bluff their way out of a confrontation by charging then turning away at the last moment.  Generally, the response is to do nothing to threaten or further arouse the bear.  While fighting back usually increases the intensity of an attack, it may cause the bear to leave.  Each incident is unique and the following are offered as guidelines only to deal with an unpredictable animal and complex situation:

Grizzly Attacks From Surprise (defensive)

  • Do nothing to threaten or further arouse the bear.
  • Play dead.  Assume the 'cannonball position' with hands clasped behind neck and face buried in knees.
  • Do not move until the bear leaves the area.  Such attacks seldom last beyond a few minutes.

Black Bear Attacks From Surprise (defensive)

  • Playing dead is not appropriate.  Try to retreat from the attack.

Grizzly or Black Bear Attacks Offensively (including stalking you or when you are sleeping)

  • Do not play dead.  Try to escape to a secure place (car or building) or climb a tree unless it is a black bear.  If you have no other option, try to intimidate the bear with deterrents or weapons such as tree branches or rocks.

Grizzly or Black Bear Attacking For Your Food

  • Abandon the food.  Leave the area.
  • ;Do not deal with a problem bear unless it is an emergency.

Deterrents

Every person who works or travels in bear country should have ready access to some means of deterring or chasing away a bear. However, do not let access to deterrents make you overconfident. No deterrent is completely effective against every bear in every situation.

Chemical Repellents

(Commonly referred to as "pepper spray.") Tests have shown these will stop a charging bear if sprayed into the bear's eyes, nose and mouth. Chemical repellents have limitations - short range, difficulty of accurate delivery if a person is excited, and their potential for abuse.

Noise

Warning shots and noisemakers are commonly-used deterrents. However, they are not always effective. They scare some bears, but other bears ignore them.

Vehicles

Trucks, snowmobiles, ATV's, and helicopters have been used to chase away bears. Sometimes, starting and reving the engine is enough. Do not chase a bear with a vehicle for any reason other than personal protection, and do not overdo it. Allow the bear to maintain a steady trot. If the bear is stumbling or crashing through bushes, you are too close.

Rubber Bullets

These are fired from a 12-gauge shotgun. Renewable Resource Officers can provide information on where to obtain them and their proper use.

Avid Outdoors-People Mauled

A weekend trip ended in horror for an Alaskan couple in June 2005, when a bear attacked their campsite, shredded through their tent and mauled them to death. 

Police say 61-year-old Richard Huffman and his wife, 58-year-old Cathy Huffman, were mauled as they camped along the Hulahula River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Huffmans were on a river-rafting trip through ANWR. By all counts, they appeared to have plenty of experience coping in bear country. That’s why police and biologists are at a loss to explain what happened Saturday when a grizzly wandered into the Huffmans’ camp.

When North Slope Borough police arrived at the campsite, everything was in shambles and the bodies of the couple were inside their destroyed tent. They had set up camp 12 miles downriver from the village of Kaktovik.

“They had an immaculate camp. There was no food in the tent,” said Bruce Bartley of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “They had bear-proof food containers. They had good site selection for the camp. I mean it wasn't on a bunch of trails.”

But for some reason, a bear was attracted to the camp. It mauled the Huffmans and ransacked the site. Another rafter spotted the destruction and called police on his satellite phone. When police arrived, they tracked the bear and killed it. Now comes the search for answers.

“We need to try to know and understand what was going on with the bear,” said Bartley, adding that a necropsy will be done on the bear to see if anything provoked it.

“Did the bear have bad teeth? Was it injured in some way? Was it sick or emaciated? Was it starving to death? Those kind of basic questions,” Bartley says.

Those questions could bring an explanation why the bear attacked Huffman, a prominent Anchorage attorney, and his wife, a retired local school teacher.

Police say the Huffmans had a gun with them, but it didn’t appear to have been fired during the attack. Bartley says this may be a case where a bear just made a predatory attack on humans. Fish and Game says this type of attack is extremely rare.

One Mother Attacks Another

It was the subtlest sign: the birds in the canopy of trees above had stopped singing.

Fran Nykoluk, a petite, 53-year-old woman from Calgary, looked around her on the mountain side pass stretching across the rugged southern Alberta country she knew so well -- and saw nothing.

"It was silent and usually that is a danger sign," she said.

She turned again when she heard the snap of broken brush and bark behind her. This time, she saw it: A mother grizzly bear barreling through the bush toward her, two cubs trailing behind.

 

The fast-approaching, massive, ragged shape was coming and all Ms. Nykoluk could do was struggle to shake the safety from her rifle.

"I think I was ... in her way," she said of the grizzly.

She loaded a spare bullet and aimed. Then the rifle jammed.

Within seconds the grizzly had reared onto its hind legs, coming down on Ms. Nykoluk's face. "You could hear the crunch and I hollered. I knew the cheekbone was gone."

After it's the memory of the attack, she says -- and not the pain of its devastating wounds -- that are hardest.

The flecks of silver in the grizzly's brown coat, the animal's eyes, the gnashing teeth tearing into her flesh.

"I can remember every detail," she said. "It's very vivid for me.

"Maybe it would have been better if I was unconscious."

The attack took place Oct. 7, 2004, when Ms. Nykoluk was hiking through the bush near Isolation Creek, 110 kilometres southwest of Calgary, searching for the carcass of an elk her husband Rick had shot.

As she lay under the bear playing dead -- nothing but her camouflage hunting jacket, blue jeans and long-johns to protect her - - she pushed her hat over her cheek and tried rolling to her stomach.

When she moved, the bear bit her groin, puncturing her flesh in several places.

She tried rolling again but the bear still bit, gnawing her chest, then her right bicep, before Ms. Nykoluk knew she had to be still.

Some minutes later, she opened her eyes. The bear was gone.

Struggling to her feet, Ms. Nykoluk fired off a shot, the signal to her husband she'd found an elk.

It wasn't long before she saw his Jeep driving toward her. When he arrived at the spot, Mr. Nykoluk found his bleeding wife stagger from the bush clutching her gored face -- a bloody gash stretching from her forehead, across her eye, down her nose and onto her neck.

She collapsed and, as her panic-stricken husband helped her into the vehicle, she managed to tell Mr. Nykoluk she'd been attacked by a grizzly. "I told Rick it wasn't a good day to die," she said, "so please get me home."

The couple faced a 45-minute drive off the mountain and every time the Jeep hit a bump, Ms. Nykoluk "screamed in agony." Finally the pair came across two trucks and asked the drivers to call an air ambulance service.

Rescuers who helped stabilize her on the dusty forestry road said the gash on her face was so deep the skin could peel back, exposing her scalp.

Soreness from the wounds didn't last long -- not the bites on her face, arm, breast or groin -- but rather the whiplash throes of the attack were long lasting, as if she lived through a car accident.

It's been hard now not to second guess herself, she said. She's spent sleepless nights wondering what could have been had she not fumbled with her rifle -- if it had been ready to fire.

"I'm not scared anymore," she said. "I have done some crying for me. This is something that will change the rest of my life."

She has undergone two operations, including one to repair nerve damage to her face that left an eye and her mouth partially paralyzed.

Doctors took a nerve from her ankle and grafted it into her face to restore movement.

She says the scar on her face will be "clean."

However much Nykoluk has been through, she says she still plans to return to Isolation Creek.

"I'm looking forward to going back to the valley again," she says. "It's been a mainstay in our lives for 30 years."

 

Black Bears

Colour: Black, brown, cinnamon or blond, often with a white patch on the chest or on the throat.

Height: Approximately 90 cm at the shoulder.

Weight: 57 kg to more than 270 kg. Females are usually smaller than males.

Characteristics: Straight face profile; short, curved claws; barely noticeable shoulder hump.

Habitat: Prefers forested areas with low-growing plants and berry-producing shrubs (e.g. small forest openings, stream or lake edges, open forest). Found all across North America.

bear
Most grizzly and black bears feed on berries and small gain. They are not looking to attack humans unless they feel threatened or starved.
Grizzly Bears
grizzly
Colour: Varies. Black (rare), brown or blond. Fur often white-tipped or "grizzled". Light-coloured patches may occur around neck, shoulders and on rear flanks.

Height: Slightly above one metre at shoulder; 1.8 to 2.0 metres when erect.

Weight: 200 kg to more than 450 kg. Females are usually smaller than males.

Characteristics:  Dished or concave long face; curved claws; prominent shoulder hump.

Habitat: Semi-open spaces preferred. High country in late summer and early fall; valley bottoms late fall and spring.

A Close Call
Denton Turner figured he was dead already. So he didn't cry out, didn't move, didn't even open his eyes as a bear attacked him at Yellowstone National Park.

"The way he was biting me, I thought that I would be so torn up, I'd lay there and die," said Turner, 19. The Charlotte native, a sophomore at Appalachian State University, suffered bruises, cuts, puncture wounds to his back and a bite below his right armpit. Still, he hopes to return soon to his summer job in the kitchen at the Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria - a job he took to satisfy his fascination with the outdoors. It's that fascination that brought Turner to the 14 most terrifying seconds of his life.

Denton came face to face with two enormous grizzly bears
On a day off from work, he hiked alone into Hayden Valley to do some birdwatching. Dusk was settling in as he looked at a bluebird through his binoculars, he said.

Suddenly, he heard a rustling in the bushes and realized he had company: two grizzly bears. The larger bear charged, and Turner dropped face-down to the ground, curling into a fetal position with his hands behind his neck. Within seconds, the bear had covered the 30 yards and was on top of him.

"It was like he was growling," Turner said. "It was the loudest snarl I ever heard." The bear bit Turner just below his right armpit, clawed at his back and rolled him over. "Then, all of a sudden, he was gone," Turner said.

Turner remained on the ground for a couple of minutes, in case the bears were still nearby. Then he sat up and saw them on a hill about 150 yards away. He headed the half-mile back to his car, and only at that point realized that he was in pain and bleeding. He flagged down another motorist who took him to help.

Park spokeswoman Stacy Vallie said 27 bear attacks have been reported in the park since 1980, with two resulting in deaths. About 300 to 600 grizzlies live in the greater Yellowstone area, she said. Turner's parents have visited him regularly since the attack.

His mother, Libba, said she worries because she knows the frightening experience won't keep her son from hiking and camping. "He absolutely cannot live without the outdoors," she said. "That's what scares me."

bear
A bear that is standing is not necessarily being aggressive. It may be trying to identify you as a threat. A bear will not attack you while standing, but will rush at you on all four legs.
Problem Bears

Problems can occur whenever bears and people occupy the same area. You can meet a bear by chance, or because the bear is attracted to your activity. Bears are curious, and often investigate a strange object, smell, or noise. They also have a tremendous and constant drive to find as much nutritious food as they can during their time out of the den.

These two traits, coupled with a bear's remarkable sense of smell, often lead bears to areas of human activity. The outcome of a bear's visit to a camp or community will influence its future behaviour. If it does not find food, it may not return once its curiosity has been satisfied.

woman
A bear attack victim displays the deadly effects of a bear's claws.
Avoiding Problems On The Trail
  • Travel in groups and only during daylight hours.

  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Think ahead and be prepared. In open terrain, use binoculars to look ahead for bears. If you see a bear at a distance, take action to avoid surprising it.

  • Watch for bear signs such as: tracks; droppings which contain vegetation, berries, or hair; claw marks or stripped bark on trees; torn up stumps or rotten logs; and upturned earth.

  • Never approach a fresh kill. Be cautious of loose piles of dirt, branches and vegetation. They may hide a carcass which a bear has cached, and the bear may be resting nearby to protect it.

  • Carry food in airtight or bearproof containers and avoid carrying foods with strong smells.

  • Make noise where visibility is limited. Announcing your presence may help you avoid surprising a bear. You can sing, shout or talk loudly. Some people carry noisemakers such as bells or air horns. However, do not become overconfident - noise may be masked by sounds such as wind or water, or may go unnoticed by a bear that is busy eating.

  • Do not carry articles that have a strong artificial smell and avoid wearing scented cosmetics.

  • Menstruating women should try to minimize odours through careful personal hygiene, use of internal sanitary protection and burning sanitary materials in a hot fire.

bear
Baby cubs may look like teddy bears, but where there's a baby, there's usually a mama not far behind.
At Your Campsite

In bear country, camp location is important. You can reduce the risk of bear visits by avoiding certain locations when making camp:

  • Avoid bear feeding areas, including floodplains, berry patches, recent burns, wet meadows, and streams or rivers where fish are spawning.

  • Do not camp in locations where bears have been a problem in the past.  Avoid well-used or littered campsites.

  • Avoid making camp where bear signs, such as tracks or droppings are evident.

  • Avoid sites where vegetation or terrain limit visibility and might hide a bear, and locations where sounds such as rushing water may mask the sound of an approaching bear.

Do not underestimate the ability of bears to find carelessly stored food. Improper food handling is a major cause of bear problems. If you do not want your camp to attract bears, you must take special care when preparing and storing food.

  • Restrict food to cooking and storage areas. Do not take any food into your tent, not even a stick of gum.

  • Grease is especially attractive to bears. Wipe off the stove, tables, counters and barbecues. Dump greasy dishwater into a pit away from camp, and treat with lime or bleach to mask odours. Burn excess grease in a hot fire, reuse it right away, or store it in an airtight container.

  • Produce few food wastes. If you have leftovers, store them in airtight containers, then use them as soon as possible.

  • Eliminate or reduce food odours. The smell of some food, such as bacon or fish, may attract bears. Freeze-dried foods are relatively odorless.

  • Wear a hat or kerchief while cooking so your hair does not accumulate odours. Do not sleep in clothes worn while cooking. Store them with your food, away from your tent.

  • Tent campers can store food in an airtight cooler, a plastic bearproof container, a plastic-lined duffel bag, or a heavy plastic bag at least 100 metres away from camp, suspended at least four metres off the ground (if possible).

  • Other attractants such as dish detergent, toothpaste, etc. should be stored in the same manner as food.

Athlete Mauled by Bear

For Isabelle Dube, the plan was a jog with two friends on a trail near Canmore. However, when a bear attacked the group, only the two friends came back alive.

Dube had decided to climb a nearby tree, while the other two ran. Dube's husband, Heath McCroy, says she tried to divert attention so her friends could escape harm. 

"I don't want to speculate, but I think she certainly took the bear's attention away from her friends. She would have had thoughts of being strong and looking after those people. It was a brave thing to do that," McCroy said.

Whether it was a deliberate act or simply instinct, Dube's friends said it was in her to do just that. A competitor in Canmore's annual 24 Hours of Adrenalin, a team mountain bike race, she was remembered for her ability to inspire others.

"She was an Iron Woman. She was phenomenal. She lived for the moment," said Mike Sternloff, a longtime Canmore resident and Dube's uncle.

Dube as a teacher and mother, inspired others to do so. She was remembered as a person her friends could always go to for support, qualities she may have exhibited in her final moments of life.

Dube, who competed in the gruelling TransRockies Challenge, was jogging with her racing companion, Maria Hawkins, and another runner when the bear attacked around 2 p.m.

"They came within 20 to 25 metres of the bear when they first saw it," Dave Ealey of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development told reporters. "As they communicated to each other as to `What do we do?' they started backing up. Isabelle apparently chose to climb a tree.

"The other two continued to back up. They backed up out of the area to a point where they were no longer able to see their friend and they said they were going to go get some help because she was basically shouting at the bear because the bear was close to her."

The two friends ran almost a kilometre to the clubhouse of the SilverTip Golf Course to get help.

A Fish and Wildlife officer responded, and found the bear with Dube.

"As he approached, the bear moved off the body," Ealey said. "(He) shot it. One shot."

Fish and Wildlife Officers had relocated the bear from Canmore eight days before the attack. McCroy however, had no criticism for the handling of the bear.

"Yes, maybe there should have been a couple more warning signs that the bear was in the area," he told the Outlook. "Mother Nature does what she does. Isabelle happened to be in the path of a bear who obviously decided to attack. You can't predict that."

Dube was the first person to be killed by a bear in Alberta since 1998 and the first in the Bow Valley since 1981, when a fisherman was killed just outside the east gate of Banff National Park.

But nobody wanted to talk about blame or trail closures during the funeral. Instead they came to remember a young mother described as "a bright sparkle in a meadow of snow."

Martial Arts Kicks I

An Alberta man on a Bible retreat is thanking both God and his martial arts training after he beat back a charging grizzly bear and survived.

Lyle Simpson, 32, was among a group of seven hikers trudging through a remote wilderness area west of Calgary on April 30, 2005, when the bear started chasing him.

An Alberta man on a Bible retreat is thanking both God and his martial arts training after he beat back a charging grizzly bear and survived.

Lyle Simpson, 32, was among a group of seven hikers trudging through a remote wilderness area west of Calgary on April 30, 2005, when the bear started chasing him.

Simpson did exactly what you're not supposed to do but what any of us likely would have done too -- he started to run. Looking back on the ensuing flight for his life, all Simpson says he can remember now is that the bear was after him.

"I think I was thinking perhaps that I should play dead or climb a tree, but all I could do is run," he said, "until I tripped."

So, with the beast bearing down on him, trying to gnaw on his arm, Simpson did what came naturally.

Years of martial arts training literally kicked in -- prompting him to give the grizzly a foot in the nose.

"I think the bear is probably not hurting at all," he says of the well-placed kick that was, at the time at least, enough to fend off the rampaging beast.

It took six stitches to fix gashes in Simpson's arm and hip, but thanks to his quick thinking, he isn't hurting too much.

"I managed to stay alive and in one piece I think more so by the graciousness of the bear," he told Canada AM.

Simpson did exactly what you're not supposed to do but what any of us likely would have done too -- he started to run. Looking back on the ensuing flight for his life, all Simpson says he can remember now is that the bear was after him.

"I think I was thinking perhaps that I should play dead or climb a tree, but all I could do is run," he said, "until I tripped."

So, with the beast bearing down on him, trying to gnaw on his arm, Simpson did what came naturally.

Years of martial arts training literally kicked in -- prompting him to give the grizzly a foot in the nose.

"I think the bear is probably not hurting at all," he says of the well-placed kick that was, at the time at least, enough to fend off the rampaging beast.

It took six stitches to fix gashes in Simpson's arm and hip, but thanks to his quick thinking, he isn't hurting too much.

"I managed to stay alive and in one piece I think more so by the graciousness of the bear," he told Canada AM.

Hunters Get Hunted

Deep in the rugged wilderness northwest of Fort St. John, B.C., Jay Stafford and his father were skinning an elk in Sept. 2004, when they were attacked by three grizzly bears.

The two veteran outdoorsmen were debating what to do with the head of the slaughtered elk when they realized they were being watched by a sow and her two cubs.

Deep in the rugged wilderness northwest of Fort St. John, B.C., Jay Stafford and his father were skinning an elk in Sept. 2004, when they were attacked by three grizzly bears.

The two veteran outdoorsmen were debating what to do with the head of the slaughtered elk when they realized they were being watched by a sow and her two cubs.

"I heard a bear growl and I said, "Dad, did you hear that?' And then the wind blew and it sounded like it was just the wind comin' through the trees," Jay Stafford said.

"So, I paid attention and looked up from the horns and I said, 'Oh my God, Dad, it's a bear,' and it come down at us."

The female bear and her two cubs charged down a hill to where Stafford, 28, and his father, Terry, 57, were packing up their elk meat.

The Fort St. John-area residents had been out hunting for two weeks when the attack occurred.

"They just run down that hill fast as they could and they started attacking," Jay Stafford said. "The one that come at me got up on his back legs, knocked me down and then I was down, facing away. And then (it) went around the left side of me and then got a hold of my leg."

Jay felt the bear's long, sharp teeth cut into his upper right thigh before the bear left him and went for the horses. "I got myself turned over and I seen (the bear) take off for where the horses were standing," he said. "I knew this was my only chance, so I went for the gun."

Jay dragged himself to his father's rifle, grabbed it and shot the bear dead.

After the attack the two men, both suffering intense pain, got their gear together, and started to leave. They eventually met their hunting partners, who treated their injuries and rode with them through the dark to an old outfitters camp where they could use their cellphones.

The trip took more than five hours on horseback and they did not reach the camp until after midnight. They were airlifted out first thing the next morning.

Terry suffered severe scratches on his back and shoulder, but is recovering at home. Jay is still in hospital and said he has "four large holes" in his leg where the bear bit him. The biggest puncture wound is about five centimetres long and 1.2 centimetres wide, he said.

Jay said he hopes to get back into the woods later this year. "I love the outdoors. I spent my whole life there. You got a lot better chance of staying alive there than in Vancouver," he said.

The two cubs, likely about two years old, were destroyed. Their behaviour from the sow was a major concern.

"I heard a bear growl and I said, "Dad, did you hear that?' And then the wind blew and it sounded like it was just the wind comin' through the trees," Jay Stafford said.

"So, I paid attention and looked up from the horns and I said, 'Oh my God, Dad, it's a bear,' and it come down at us."

The female bear and her two cubs charged down a hill to where Stafford, 28, and his father, Terry, 57, were packing up their elk meat.

The Fort St. John-area residents had been out hunting for two weeks when the attack occurred.

"They just run down that hill fast as they could and they started attacking," Jay Stafford said. "The one that come at me got up on his back legs, knocked me down and then I was down, facing away. And then (it) went around the left side of me and then got a hold of my leg."

Jay felt the bear's long, sharp teeth cut into his upper right thigh before the bear left him and went for the horses. "I got myself turned over and I seen (the bear) take off for where the horses were standing," he said. "I knew this was my only chance, so I went for the gun."

Jay dragged himself to his father's rifle, grabbed it and shot the bear dead.

After the attack the two men, both suffering intense pain, got their gear together, and started to leave. They eventually met their hunting partners, who treated their injuries and rode with them through the dark to an old outfitters camp where they could use their cellphones.

The trip took more than five hours on horseback and they did not reach the camp until after midnight. They were airlifted out first thing the next morning.

Terry suffered severe scratches on his back and shoulder, but is recovering at home. Jay is still in hospital and said he has "four large holes" in his leg where the bear bit him. The biggest puncture wound is about five centimetres long and 1.2 centimetres wide, he said.

Jay said he hopes to get back into the woods later this year. "I love the outdoors. I spent my whole life there. You got a lot better chance of staying alive there than in Vancouver," he said.

The two cubs, likely about two years old, were destroyed. Their behaviour from the sow was a major concern.