There was a story earlier this month where a B.C. man was attacked by a black bear and saved himself by killing the bear by hitting it with a (big) stick. In the process he was badly mauled.
Jim West, 45, was out walking last Saturday morning with his two dogs near 70 Mile House, about halfway between Kamloops and Williams Lake, when he came face to face with an angry mother bear.
“I turned [when] I heard a grunt. All I saw was eyes full of hatred … I had no option … So I stuck my foot up and tried to kick her in the face,” he said.
The bear then attacked him, knocking him to the ground, and West soon found himself on the losing side of an ill-matched fight.
“I rolled onto my stomach and clasped my hands at the back of my neck. She tore into my skull at the back of my head, moved over and bit me on the left side of my body, on my ribs and left arm,” said West.
Knowing he would likely soon be dead unless he fought back, the injured West managed to get to his feet and picked up a stick about as thick as his arm.
You would think that would be the end of the story. Man is attacked by bear and successfully defends himself. Good human interest story. Too bad for the bear, especially as there were two cubs that had to be put down by Conservation Officers after the fact. But what are you going to do? Let the bear kill you? I think not.
As a matter of fact, that is apparently what some people think he should have done.
A B.C. man who clubbed a bear to death in self-defence is now defending himself from a smear campaign.
Jim West of 70 Mile House says angry animal-rights crusaders have been harassing him at home and impersonating him in e-mails to media outlets.
“I figure this is someone from PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] because I’ve had some people tracking me down and giving me the gears,” said Mr. West, 45.
“I really hate that. I hate confrontations of any kind. I try to be as polite as possible. I’m sorry, but it was simply a life-or-death situation,” he said yesterday.
PETA spokesman Martin Mersereau denied any involvement in the smear campaign.
Since then, e-mails have been sent to The Province in Mr. West’s name, attempting to debunk his story.
In the e-mails, someone impersonating Mr. West says the dogs started the confrontation by chasing the bears up a tree. The e-mails go on to say that Mr. West stood below the tree, waiting to attack the bear when it came down.
But Mr. West is sticking to his story.
“I’m sorry that the cubs had to be put down. I’m sorry I had to kill that bear, but she wouldn’t be sorry if she had killed me,” he said.
Mr. West says he’s also been receiving phone calls.
“One woman asked me why I killed the bear and why I didn’t run away. Well, you can’t outrun a mother bear,” said Mr. West who is recovering from the 60 stitches to his skull, upper lip and left arm he received in the attack.
“It was a matter of survival and I’m sorry people are upset about it, but it was live or die.”
There are those who believe that man’s natural habitat is highrise apartments, paved parking lots and fast food restaurants. They believe that we should never venture into the backcountry and anyone who wanders into the bears “world” deserves what ever happens. In this scenario Mr. West was at fault for the bear’s attack simply because he was there. If he had stayed at home the bears would be alive and the world would be at one with itself.
Anyone who believes this is seriously out of touch with reality.
I feel sorry for those who never experience the world beyond the confines of paved roads and man made fences. There is always an element of risk when you step into natural country. As the saying goes, when you step into the backcountry you need to be aware that you are at the bottom end of the food chain.
Jim West elevated himself just a little bit above that line when he went tooth and nail against a determined and aggressive bear. He certainly has my respect.