A chilling confrontation between a man with a shotgun and a grizzly bear in Bella Coola has left many questioning the man’s reaction.
In a video posted Oct. 14, a man is seen trying to scare away the mother grizzly and her three cubs who are playing on a set of trees on his property.
Shotgun in hand, he walks past his dog on the lawn towards the group, before firing a warning shot.
The person who uploaded the incident to YouTube, who calls himself J LM and identifies as the man in the video, wrote that he was using a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded with three bird shot shells “with the intention of shooting into the air to scare them away.”
After two warning shots, the camera appears to be dropped, before a woman can be heard saying “She’s charging. Oh, God.”
The camera then brings the man back into view. The man fires at the charging bear, knocking her onto her back for a few seconds before she gets up and continues to chase him.
“I didn’t want to blind her by hitting her in the face so aimed at her right side to hopefully trip her up to buy me enough time to run inside the house,” the man wrote.
“I waited as long as I could, until she was just across the driveway and then I hazed her, which did trip her up so I turned and ran inside the house.”
The man is heard breathing heavily off-camera as the woman asks where the bear went. The video clips ends.
“She kept coming towards the house with her mouth open, ready to bite me, and I slammed the door, the last thing I remember was gravel hitting my truck as she turned and ran back (four limbs working fine) and took her cubs away,” the man said.
The hair-raising incident had been viewed more than 16,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon.
According to the man, he had just returned from a one-week trip and noticed the bears had been climbing on the trees.
He also claims he worked with bears for more than 30 years while working in the fishing industry.
“I talked it over with the local COs, showed them the video, and they said I was totally justified in defending myself and family,” he said. “I’m just glad it was me and not the kids out there.”
The BC Conservation Officer Service is in fact investigating the incident, though officials with the environment ministry wouldn’t speak further on the matter.
Mixed reaction to man’s decision to fire shotgun
The small community of Bella Coola on the central coast is considered to be part of B.C.’s more remote bear country – which has some questioning the man’s approach to dealing with the mother bear and her babies.
“I’ve watched this a number of times. Why did he go outside? Why not just call his dog. I presume he was in bear country to have grizzlies around. It is reasonable and should be considered pretty wonderful to have them wonder [sic] by,” a YouTube user named Keith said. “If you don’t want bears around stay away from them. This feels pretty senseless and unnecessary to me.”
Said user whitetailsheds: “These scenarios are going to become more frequent in B.C. and Alberta. No grizzly hunt. Ever increasing human population. Combined increasing grizzly population. This is just one made known. More will occur that no one will know about. The ones that will be made known will be the maulings and deaths of the public. Glad you and your family are safe.”
Others are offering words of support.
“Everyone is a critic! I would have done the same thing with the exception of the bird shot. You don’t realize how stressful these situations are unless you have experienced these incidents before. Bears and your family don’t mix,” said user John Smith.
“Right their [sic] is why a gun works better then bear spray,” Devon Harach wrote.
B.C.’s conservation officer service urges residents to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters line or local RCMP if a bear appears to be threatening, persistent or aggressive and not to resolve any conflict themselves.