A Winnipeg, Manitoba, man is recovering from his injuries after a black bear dragged him from an outhouse and slashed and bit him repeatedly before a friend intervened and shot and killed the bear.
Gordon Shurvell, 65, was home late Tuesday (May 21) after being treated and released from a hospital in northwestern Ontario.
And he can thank one of his best friends, Daniel Alexander, also of Winnipeg, for possibly saving his life.
The attack happened on Saturday at 6 a.m. at a camping site on Crown land about 36 miles north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, near Dunbar Lake, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.
Sgt. David Pinchin of OPP Sioux Lookout said Shurvell and his 63-year-old friend were camping in the area when Shurvell went to a wooden outhouse and left its door open.
A black bear then dragged the man by his arm and shoulder, before biting him on the back of his head and neck.
The bear also slashed at his arms, neck, and head. The attack lasted about one minute before Alexander grabbed a gun and shot the animal.
“If you had seen your friend being dragged by a bear, how do you think you would react? Alexander told the Free Press.
“I reacted by instinct … when in a life and death situation you react by instinct. You do what you have to do. I shot the bear.”
Alexander said his friend was bleeding badly, but he managed to stop some of it before they quickly headed to the hospital in Sioux Lookout.
“You have to understand bush life: we’re not five minutes from a phone, we don’t have cell phone service,” he said.
Shurvell’s son said it was a terrifying ordeal for his father.
“He was on the john … pulled right from the outhouse,” said Dan Shurvell.
“The bear had him by the shoulder. He’s scratched up pretty bad.”
The man went to hospital for treatment, including a rabies shot, said Pinchin. “He had puncture wounds to the back of his head and neck and slash marks to his arms and back of the head,” Pinchin said.
The officer said police have had a lot of calls about bears in the last couple of weeks, but those animals were non-aggressive.
When asked about the friend who shot and killed the bear, the officer said he would do “the exact same thing.”
“I would fight back and if I had a firearm, I’d kill the bear,” he said.
How to stay safe in bear country
Many people like to enjoy nature closely, by hiking in backcountry and mountainsides. But when you are in bear country, you should be careful and prepared.
Bear Safety Tips
Make lots of noise. Especially important when you are on a trail with restricted visibility, as well as those times when the wind is blowing towards you, meaning that bears will not have the benefit of your scent.
What is most important is for the bear to hear your approach long before you are within its personal space.
Travel in groups. Groups of people tend to make more noise, therefore reducing the chances of a bear encounter. Larger groups also offer the added benefit of appearing much more threatening and thus less likely to attract a bear attack.
Stay alert! Even though you may be making noise, it is still important to always stay alert and on the lookout for bears.
Always carry bear/pepper spray, and make sure that it is quickly accessible. It will be useless if it is buried in your pack. Bear sprays are an effective deterrent in very close range, emergency situations.
If you see a bear, stay calm and give it plenty of space. Do not startle it; detour slowly, keeping upwind if you can, so it will get your scent and know you are there.
When a bear first detects you, it may stand upright and use all of its senses to determine what and where you are. Once it identifies you it may ignore you, move slowly away, run, or it may charge.
On four legs, a bear may show agitation by swaying its head from side to side, making huffing noises and clacking its teeth.
A charge or retreat may follow. Flattened ears and raised hair on the back of the neck indicate aggressive intent. If a bear runs with a stiff, bouncing gait, it may be a false charge.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.