Caution: graphic content
A Vancouver mountain biker has recalled a recent encounter with a grizzly bear that left him near death.
Colin Dowler was exploring routes on Mount Doogie Dowler, named after his grandfather, when he saw the bear lumbering up the road towards him. Unsure of what to do, Dowler stood his ground and tried banging a hiking pole against his bike frame. When that didn't work, he prodded the bear on the forehead with the same pole and even tried reasoning with it. He recalls saying: "We don’t have to have a problem here. Everything’s OK.”
Dowler then threw his backpack on the ground as it had food in it but the relentless bear ignored it. It swiped at him then dragged him to a ditch about 50 feet away. Dowler describes how he tried to eye gouge the bear and prize open its jaws but these tactics seemed to have little effect. The bear was biting him on the abdomen, hands and both legs, Dowler says the sound he remembers most of all was bones grinding on teeth.
Thankfully, Dowler remembered he had a knife in his pocket, a gift from his father just a few weeks before, and managed to retrieve it from his side and stab the bear in the neck. The bear let go of him immediately but remained metres away from him and despite its deep wound, kept its attention on him. He said, “I wasn’t really sure if it was dying faster than I was or what was going on." He then cut a section of his sleeve using the same knife as a tourniquet for his deeply lacerated thigh.
He mounted his bike, losing track of the bear in the process, and rode seven kilometres, while bleeding profusely, to a logging camp, where he collapsed immediately. The loggers called for help and Dowler was airlifted to hospital, where he spent his 45th birthday on Tuesday.
In the following days, rangers set about tracking the bear but there was a final twist in the tale as they soon realised the bear was tracking them and eventually came within metres of them. Sgt. Dean Miller of the BC Conservation Officer Service told CTV News
, “It was definitely a little threatening. It actually probably stalked us for about half an hour while we were thinking we were stalking it – it was just happenstance that one of the officers actually picked up on the bear’s odour from behind us and alerted the second officer who then destroyed the bear.”
The bear was determined to be between four and five years old and in healthy condition.
Dowler is expected to make a full recovery from the attack.