Fort St. James man survives bear attack

It was a day of surprises for Randy Rawluk of Fort St. James

Randy Rawluk

Randy Rawluk

It was a beautiful day in Hazelton BC when Randy Rawluk, 64, of Fort St. James got the surprise of his life.

Rawluk and his brother-in-law Ray Sturney and wife Maureen Sargent decided to go for a nature walk. The trail they hiked wraps around the Skeena River just before the Four Mile bridge – a known well-used trail in Hazelton. Little did they know that on this particular day on that particular trail awaited a near-death surprise.

“My dog was up ahead on the trail and suddenly came running back full speed with a bear right on her butt. Ray let out a yell and I let out a yell which did take the focus off the dog..but now the bear was just a meter away from me and went on its hind legs. He slapped me with his claws and then bit me on my arm,” Rawluk said, as he rolled up his sleeve to reveal large claw and teeth marks.

The three screamed louder, frighting the bear which then took off quickly, Rawluk said.

“It went from a predatory attack on Zoey to seeing us and becoming defensive. The one bite mark was pretty deep but the claw marks are the most painful because their big scratches. In Fort St. James I hike up Mount Pope about three days a week in the summer and this was still the closest encounter I’ve ever had with a bear,” Rawluk said.

A trip to the hospital verified Rawluk did not sustain any permanent injuries or need any stitches.

No person or dog was injured from the incident.

“I didn’t even have time to be scared, it happened so fast. When it was all over I had so much adrenaline,” Rawluk said.

The next day a conservation officer questioned the group on where they saw the bear. After investigating the area, the conservationist found that the bear’s den was directly underneath a popular spot on the trail which has now been closed until authorities figure out what to do, Rawluk said.

“He was an average size bear but looked big when he was chewing on my arm,” Rawluk joked.