A black bear similar to this one charged at a Summerland woman bike riding on Conkle Mountain in Summerland (September 2020.) (Black Press file photo)

‘I could hear him huffing and see the whites of his eyes,’ says Okanagan woman about her bear encounter

Bear charges at woman mountain biking on Conkle Mountain

Summerland resident Janice Kitson is still shaken after being chased by a bear while biking on Conkle Mountain recently.

It was a more intimate encounter with nature than she was expecting.

“He is beside my back wheel and I could have put my arm around his neck, he was that close.”

Kitson was coming down Conkle Bonk on the canyon above the rodeo grounds, at around 11 a.m. on Sept. 16, when the bear came out of nowhere.

“I was having an excellent ride and thinking about what time I would finish it in, when I heard some sort of crashing in the bush to the right of the trail, above me,” Kitson recalls.

“It is a narrow area, so I chanced a quick look behind me and saw the bear galloping full speed at me – I could hear him huffing and breathing hard and see the whites of his eyes.”

With the bear behind her, Kitson pedalled as fast as she could, going off the trail and down towards the canyon.

“I think that because a small tree and patch of bush came between us, he went a bit left then ran past me and stopped six to eight feet away,” said Kitson. “I stopped and was thinking omg, omg he’s going to come back.”

That’s when the big bear stood up and snorted a number of times.

Kitson stood very still beside the little tree, thinking that if she could keep the bike between her and the bear, she might not get too mauled.

Then the dark brown bruin turned and ran off.

Kitson tried to get back on her bike and ride away but then the severity of the incident set in.

“I had to sit down for about 15 minutes, I was shaking so violently. How he didn’t hit me is a mystery to me – the way he came crashing out of the bush with dust flying everywhere.”

It’s been over a week since Kitson’s encounter with the bear and the scene still plays out in her mind.

READ MORE: Bear sightings up in Central Okanagan

Kitson says the same bear was seen last week closer to the gazebo on the north side of the Trans Canada Trail, and she believes she saw the same bear two weeks ago.

For years, Kitson and other Summerland residents have enjoyed the many trails on Conkle Mountain without incident. There have always been bears there, she hasn’t heard of any aggressive ones.

According to WildSafeBC, fall is when bears go through hyperphagia (“extreme eating”) when they require an average of 20,000 calories per day.

A mother and cubs have been spotted near the rodeo grounds this week too and another bear has been spotted in town.

READ MORE: Bear closes popular park

One thing that makes this year different in Kitson’s opinion, is that with COVID-19 more people and dogs are trying to get outside in the fresh air, making the trails busier than other years.

“Bears see canines as a threat to their cubs and their food,” said BC Conservation Officer Dave Cox.

Conservation officers have been getting calls about bear sightings, but not any calls about aggressive bears.

“What happened with that bear is not normal behaviour for them. It could have been that the bear was being defensive of some nearby food or that she surprised him,” Cox said.

He always recommends calling the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 so they can investigate and warn people about the incident or area of bear sightings.

“Calling us doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to get that bear,” he added.

This time of year, bears are attracted to all the rotting fruit in the South Okanagan and so it isn’t unusual to see them this time of year.

“We have another month of bears and then they go away to hibernate around Halloween,” said Cox.

Cox says if you are going out hiking in the mountains, it’s best to bring bells, talk and go in groups so you let bears know you are there. If you encounter a bear, talk calmly to it, don’t scream, back away and leave them an escape route if possible.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bearsWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shea Long roosts in the Shoot Out in the Telkwa Range. (SnoRiders, Houston/Shea Long photo)
Telkwa Range snowmobiling permit lottery opens

Application period is Oct. 20 to Nov. 20 for snowmobiliers and skiers to gain access to Starr Basin

Students from Houston Secondary School showed up voluntarily on Nov. 29, 2019, during their lunch break to provide input on the board’s strategic plan. (Matthew Monkman/Houston Today)
SD 54 unveils their new logo

Part of the Strategic Draft Plan released by the school district

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)
A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

Catenary poles, from which lights will be strung, mark some of the progress as the 9th St. improvement project nears its finishing date. (Houston Today photo)
Downtown work to continue into end of this month

Finishing touches not expected until next spring

District of Houston office
Wants variance to allow taller building

Property owners adjacent to M. Brown Contracting on Vriend Road have the… Continue reading

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read