A black bear feeds on dandelions. (Michael Penn/Black Press Media)

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

It’s not everyday one goes out for a jog and ends up in a tree – for hours – as a large black bear patrols below, but that’s exactly what happened to Francis Levasseur while on a secluded trail in the West Kootenays recently.

Levasseur, 42, was out for an afternoon run near a friend’s farm in the Slocan Valley community of Hills, B.C., on Victoria Day long weekend when he came across the bear.

At first, Levasseur did what any expert would advise: he walked slowly, didn’t turn his back and managed to pick up a stick and wave it wildly to try and scare the four-legged predator, standing roughly 100 metres away.

But, the bear didn’t seem to care and started walking towards Levasseur. His walk turned into a run.

“I was not expecting that reaction from him,” Levasseur told Black Press Media. “I knew what he wanted right away.”

Levasseur’s quick reaction was to climb up a nearby tree – one that was too small for the large bruin to climb, and waited for nearly two hours for the bear to leave, to no avail.

“I was screaming, shaking the tree and throwing branches at the ground,” he recalled, but the bear had its own plan in mind, walking out of sight to try and trick Levasseur into thinking he was safe to climb down.

He even tried urinating on the tree – a known method to deter nosey bears.

“At the beginning, I was trying to plan an escape, but I imagined what if I start running and he catches me and goes for my guts first … I would be the spectator of my own death.”

ALSO WATCH: Bear catches ‘rascally rabbit’ for breakfast near Whistler bus stop

Luckily for Levasseur, an experienced emergency responder who lives nearby named Mat Phillips eventually heard distant yells for help from his farmhouse near the trail.

With bear spray in hand and a machete in the other, Phillips and his dog were able to find Levasseur and scare the bear away, then drove the exhausted jogger home.

Phillips, who is the president of the Hills Emergency Services Society, went back out into the wooded area the next day – this time with bear biologist Wayne McCrory – to search for the bear, but couldn’t find it. They did find a blue snowmobile, which appeared to have been abandoned in the winter and overturned by the bear.

Levasseur’s wild experience is rather rare when it comes to black bear encounters in the province, but serves as a good reminder that B.C. has officially entered its annual bear season.

There were 624 calls to the BC Conservation Officer Service about black bears in April, with 103 being attended by an officer. Fourteen bears were euthanized. Those stats are typical for the beginning of spring, according to provincial government data.

Levasseur admitted that his mistake was not bringing bear spray with him, even though his jog was intended to be a short one. As someone who has lived and worked in the bush for nearly a decade, this isn’t his first time getting close to a bear, but it’s certainly an incident he won’t forget.

“I’m more comfortable with animals, they are more predictable than humans,” Levasseur said. “But that one was not predictable at all.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Wildlife

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

Just Posted

Brighter Day, a youth-led initiative based out of Volunteer Campbell River, is looking to connect seniors and youth with a new pen pal program to help make everyone more connected during this socially-distanced time. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
New pen-pal program looks to connect seniors and youth in Campbell River

Hope is to ‘make both parties feel less isolated through these challenging times’

As part of NSG, the Vancouver Foundation recently awarded a grant to an Abbotsford resident to organize a socially distanced driveway dinner party for neighbours to get to know each other. Grant applications for such projects can be made with the Campbell River Community Foundation before Oct.26, by residents of Sayward, Quadra and Campbell River. (Neighbourhood Small Grant photo)
Campbell River Community Foundation announces its first Neighbourhood Small Grants program

Grants up to $500 available for projects that comply with physical distancing guidelines from Campbell River, Sayward, Quadra among others

Village of Sayward
Mayoral candidates announced for Sayward ahead of Nov. 21 local byelections

The three positions that will be filled includes a mayor and two councillors

Campbell River Arts Council Executive Director Ken Blackburn was one of a dozen or so divers who took part in the McIvor Lake cleanup day put on by the Campbell River Tide Rippers dive club Oct. 4. Photo courtesy Campbell River Tide Rippers
Campbell River dive club takes 200kg of trash out of McIvor Lake

‘Sometimes we come across things that make you wonder what people were thinking’

Campbell River Hospice Staff practice Reiki with a client at the hospice. Photo supplied by Campbell River Hospice Society.
Campbell River Hospice Society holds fundraiser raffle

Two draws per week until mid-February

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Chris Istace campaigning in Crofton. (Photo submitted)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

Island candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

Sails down, masks up for Ron and Sherry Pryde, who completed a 119 day journey that was supposed to be 70 days. (Zoe Ducklow)
Coast Guard towed rudderless sailors to Port Hardy hours before a powerful storm

Rudderless for a month, the couple zigzagged most the way home with “a few donuts and lazy-eights”

Most Read