Last Tuesday evening, an angler from Anchorage, Alaska was mauled by a grizzly bear along the Morice River.
The attack occurred around 7:30 p.m., 23 kilometres up the Morice River Road, as the fisher was preparing to leave the area, Supervisor for the Bulkley Stikine Zone with the Conservation Officer Service Kevin Nixon said.
“It was a very serious attack,” Nixon said.
“He suffered severe injuries to his face and many puncture wounds and claw wounds to the upper torso.”
The 65-year-old angler, whose name has not been released pending contact with family, is lucky to have survived the attack, Nixon said.
Despite the severity of his injuries, the fisher crawled approximately 300 metre back to his vehicle along the Morice River Road where he was spotted by a woman driving by who upon noticing the wounds called emergency services.
The victim was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Smithers, stabilized and medevaced to Vancouver General Hospital.
Based on what Nixon described as, “difficult communication,” the angler believes he surprised a grizzly sow with at least one cub.
The Conservation Office Service closed off the area where the attack occurred and searched by foot and by air, but didn’t locate the bear or the cub(s), although the area did have abundant signs indicating bears were in the area, including fur, scat, and claw marks on trees.
Based on what the angler said and an investigation at the site, Nixon believes the angler had kneeled, behind two fallen cottonwood trees on a gravel bar, to put his gear away.
The sow approached but didn’t see the angler until he stood up to leave which startled the bear and provoked the attack.
“It was just a whole bunch of bad luck,” Nixon said.
“We’re confident it was a defensive attack, there was at least one cub, maybe two, but we’re not sure.”
The area of the attack remains cordonned off.
Such attacks are rare in the Bulkley Valley, Nixon, whose been in the area for 22 years, said.
“Other than a couple of attacks around Burns Lake and a couple of minor attacks in the Hazeltons, we haven’t had an attack like this around Smithers in years,” he said.
Nixon advised anyone fishing or walking along rivers to make sure they make plenty of noise and keep an eye out for bear signs.