Calgary Woman Fends Off Bear Attack

Elederly Lady Uses Tree Branch In Self-Defense

Wire Reports, Bear Hunting Magazine
05/26/2007

Recalling her terrifying confrontation with a black bear in a city park, a petite senior said she thought she was "finished" when the bruin startled her from behind.

Marion, 65, who didn't want to give her last name, said she was on her daily walk in South Glenmore Park when she heard footsteps on the pathway behind her.

Turning around, she came face to face with a black bear just metres away.

"I just froze and I could see it was coming straight for me," said Marion, who stands 5-ft. and weighs just 110 lb.

"I just thought I was finished -- I feel so lucky."

The senior desperately screamed for her 69-year-old husband, who was walking further ahead, but he failed to hear her cries.

"I stood there and I thought, 'What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to play dead?'" said Marion, still traumatized by the nerve-wracking encounter.

A 10-ft. branch laying on the ground is what saved her life.

"By the time I picked up the branch he was right there, I had it in his face," she said.

Slowly walking backwards along the empty pathway, Marion poked the bear with the branch and it retreated, circling back into the bushes and scurrying up a tree.

But the bruin wouldn't back down and continued to approach the senior for what she said felt like 20 minutes.

"I kept wondering if I could keep hanging on because I was really getting tired," Marion said about gripping the heavy branch.

Luckily, the bear headed toward the water's edge and Marion was able to escape through a clearing in the scrub to nearby 90th Ave. S.W.

She flagged down a motorist who called 911.

Marion said a friend told her yesterday he saw a bear near the adjacent Tsuu T'ina reserve last Sunday and reported it to officials.

The bear, likely a black bear or a brown bear, had been marked with an orange tag, which means it had previously been relocated because it had moved too close to humans.

Marion is outraged conservation officers didn't post signs in the nearby parks warning the public about the bear sighting.

"I'm really quite ticked off," she said.

But the province said conservation officers who responded to Sunday's call deemed the bear to be a low risk to the public, said Darcy Whiteside of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

"The bear had no contact with humans -- it was seen from a distance," he said, adding the area is a wildlife corridor and the public must take precautions to protect themselves at all times.

Conservation officers were patrolling the area yesterday and have set a trap to capture the bear, said Whiteside.

He couldn't say whether the bear would be relocated or euthanized.

Warning signs have now been posted, but Marion said she won't be returning until the bear is captured.

"My understanding was the female of the partnership fended off the bear for a moment or two utilizing a branch," said police duty inspector Dale Flemming. "It was sort of like a cat-and-mouse game."

They were quickly assessed by paramedics after someone called for help.

"Our crew assessed them and they didn't even have a scratch on them," said Calgary EMS acting superintendent Jeff Slimmon.

However, the two were likely traumatized by the incident, added Flemming.

STARS air ambulance and the police HAWC2 helicopter were called in to sweep the area as fire, police, fish and wildlife officers and paramedics remained at the scene for hours.

"This is a large area, very difficult to contain," Flemming said.

"It's a wildlife area, and it's directly connected to the west corridor... . This is not a surprise.

"Occasionally, we do have encounters of this nature," said Fleming.






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