Serious Incident: Predatory Grizzly Encounter

Safety Alert Type: 
Wildlife encounter
Location: 
Nazko, off the 4000 Rd at 4039, 4km on Run Away Rd. (west of Quesnel)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2014-10-08
Company Name: 
Zanzibar Holdings Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

While surveying, a worker was tracked, approached and then stalked by a mature Grizzly exhibiting predatory behavior. The worker had been dropped off by her co-worker and had just started surveying a forested opening when her dog started growling at a thicket on the edge of the sample plot.

A bear appeared then approached, making no sound and walking with intent towards her. The worker started backing up, bear spray at the ready, yelling loudly and making herself as big as possible with arms fully extended while her dog aggressively barked. The bear hesitated, reassessed, and then resumed stalking again, circling in a predatory manner. The worker kept facing the bear, retreating backwards towards the drop off point on the road. The bear tracked her to the forest edge and then stopped.

Radio contact with the co-worker was attempted without success initially but contact was made by the time the worker made it back to the pickup location. Due to the nature of the incident and the abnormal bear behavior, both workers left that area.

The co-worker had observed the bear after the initial drop off and assessed the animal as travelling in the opposite direction from the worksite and so deemed it not to be a threat. During further interviews with the co-worker after the incident it was noted that the bear had been oddly unafraid of the horn and the moving truck.

On further investigation and discussion with local residents it was reported that firefighters had recently encountered a bear in the area that had shown no fear of workers or bear bangers and had acted aggressively.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • When a bear is sighted, all crew members must be notified and action plan initiated. Recent incidents related to specific work areas should be coordinated through a regional authority.
  • If working in pairs, work within radio contact range of each other whenever possible and check in at designated times.
  • ALWAYS carry bear spray where it is easily accessible. In high risk areas, carry two cans.
  • Bear behaviour may have been affected by recent history forest fires in the area. The bear in this incident could well have been displaced in unfamiliar territory, hungry and confused. This deserves further investigation and consideration in Bear Aware best practices.
  • Carry a SPOT or other type of Satellite communication device.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Sylvia Fenwick-Wilson, Zanzibar Holdings Ltd. (604) 317-4118 or email: sylvia@zanzibar.ca 

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Zanzibar_Hldgs_Ltd._2014-10-8.pdf
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