Bear chases kicksledder on Spray River West(with video)

by Bob Truman on April 15, 2017

in Animal tracks & sightings, Banff, XC

Update April 19: Story in the Crag and Canyon newspaper Grizzly pursues woman, dogs on Banff trail

This was posted by Annette Young on Facebook…

Completely shaken but safe, untouched and unharmed….

We had such an incredible run today. I set off with kicksled and dogs with the thought that “this is probably the season finale” as the snow is starting to melt on trails close to town.

Spray River West

Above photos are screen captures from the video posted by Wags Unlimited

Dogs have not been allowed on the cross-country track set Spray Loop trail in Banff all winter because of the ski tracks but now as spring has turned the tracks into slush, the “no dogs allowed” sign has been removed. So I was excited to get out there and decided to set out on a final kick-sled adventure. What a perfect way to end the kicksledding season AND celebrate Easter?! It was absolutely wonderfully amazing….the trail is still completely snow covered and somfun to be on! It was slushy/icy and quite fast all around. We kick-sledded 30min in, (about 4km) turned around, and headed for the trail head again. About 500 meters before our finish line and the trail head and parking lot I could hear the galloping steps of a big animal running behind us – turn my head…and to my horror see that there’s a bear. Quite sure it was a grizzly – not massively enormous but big enough to make me very uncomfortable. The dogs weren’t aware at this point so I quietly just asked them to “go on! Go on” they picked up speed but to my horror the bear did the same. After realizing we would not be able to out-run the bear, I asked the dogs to stop, turned around to face the bear – made myself as big as I possibly could flailing my arms in the air, screaming at him “GOOOO!” “GO AWAY!” – and he stopped….but nothing more. I grabbed my bear spray, undid the safety clasp on and held it at the ready but at a mere 6 meter reach….he was just a bit too far away to deploy it. (Maybe about 15Plus meters?)

While he was stopped, I thought we would have a chance to run away from him again so asked dogs to continue – only to realize the bear was yet again in full chase behind us. So the same sequence was repeated a number of times. I’d stop, scream and holler, picked up rocks and threw them at him – only to have him dodge my rocks, pause and nothing more. And so it went…for about 400 terrifying meters. Just before the trail head, for whatever reason, he decided not to continue chasing us, but stopped and didnt pursue us anymore. I had screamed my throat nearly hoarse, and miraculously that last time he stayed put on the trail and didn’t keep Coming after us. We made it to the car, I put the dogs into safety, told the other people in the parking lot I have a bear in tow so please not head down the trail but stay safe and then made a call to Parks Canada Wildlife sightings phone line.

About 45 minutes later my hands stopped trembling.
Completely shaken and saying a quiet prayer of thanks this evening. Grateful to be home, safe, untouched, unharmed. Grateful for my two dogs who stayed cool and collected through this.
And most of all Grateful to the bear who decided we weren’t worth it in the end.
It’s a privilege to live here, I know. But I won’t head down that same trail for a while, I also know…

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pete April 15, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Yikes! Glad everyone (including the dogs) escaped without injury!

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2 Hilda April 15, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Dogs should not be in the backcountry . Think of the terror you put that Bear through.

Did you read the story? It wasn’t the bear that got terrorized. -Bob

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3 GordN April 15, 2017 at 9:24 pm

Bob re-posted this from another site, Doubtful he’ll see your remark.

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4 GordN April 22, 2017 at 8:43 am

Or She! Sorry, assumptions….!

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5 Bob Truman April 22, 2017 at 9:14 am

I’ve updated the story with the woman’s name. I’ve also posted a link to the story in the newspaper.

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6 Risto April 16, 2017 at 9:53 am

The spray river trail is not the backcountry. This happened 500m from a hotel..that said, unleashed dogs are involved in a half of all bear attacks, but fortunately, in this case, the dogs were leashed and well behaved.

I am no expert, but it appears to me that the bear was simply curious, and not aggressive. The bear never came any closer than 15m. It also doesn’t sound like it charged or displayed any aggressive behaviour. Yes, it followed them, but that’s what you would expect a curious bear to do if you turn around and attempt to flee. Ironically, it seems that everything she did, including yelling, throwing rocks, etc. made the bear even more curious.

I’m not saying I would have done any better myself. I probably would have ditched the sled, picked up the dogs and backed away slowly, while talking to the bear calmly, and who knows how that would have ended. Reading up on it now, it sounds like standing your ground until the curious bear gets bored and leaves is occasionally even better. http://www.bigskyfishing.com/National_parks/glacier/bears2.shtm

It can be confusing what to do when you encounter a bear, but the one thing that’s almost universally agreed upon is that you should not try to outrun a bear. I am glad they got away safe, but I think that fleeing the bear several times was asking for trouble. I hope that people don’t look at this story as a model of what to do, just because it happened to end well. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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