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WEB FIRST - Attacked 100 Mile man kills bear with stick
Published: October 06, 2008 11:00 AM
Updated: October 06, 2008 4:45 PM
By Carole Rooney
Free Press staff
Walking softly in bear territory may not be a good idea, but carrying a big stick certainly is – when you're as brave as Jim West, that is.
West was out walking alone with his dogs in the forest behind the gymkhana grounds near Green Lake early Saturday afternoon when he was attacked by a black bear.
"I was looking for moose signs because my stepson has a limited entry tag," he said in an interview with the Free Press shortly after the incident.
As they strolled along facing into the wind, West was calling out to his black labs, Shadow and Chopper, who were happily flushing grouse and wagging their tails.
"All of a sudden I heard a kind of a huff and a growl off to my right, and when I turned around there was a bear six feet away. I had no opportunity to hit the ground like I should, so I just started to kick it in the face. It jumped up and took a snap at my face, split my upper lip, and then I hit the ground, and it jumped on top of me, tore my scalp and bit my left arm."
At this point the dogs came back and managed to distract the bear, so it proceeded to go after them. As soon as West moved, the bear attacked him again, putting him back on the ground a second time, and cutting his right arm. Then the dogs intervened again and West heard one of them yelp.
"I just jumped up and grabbed a stick, and the bear turned around and came running right at me and I hit it once; it started to shake it's head, and I just kept swinging like it was a sledgehammer and I ended up crushing it's skull."
Not surprisingly, once the conservation officer who attended the scene had confirmed the bear was indeed dead from blows to the head, he told West that no one had ever done this before.
"I don't know why, it was the easiest thing in the world to do – when you have a choice of either living or dying. I felt that I'd been on the ground twice and, if I went down a third time, I wouldn't get up. I wasn't gonna go down, so I just starting swinging."
Once West observed blood running from the bear's nose, he knew the job was done and the bear was dead or dying, so he dropped the stick and told his dogs it was time to go. After walking at least a kilometre back to his truck with his shirt wrapped around his head to stem the bleeding, West then drove himself and his dogs to nearby Little Horse Lodge, arriving at around 2 p.m.
"Tim came in and said 'I just got attacked by a bear, so call 911,'" said Ellie Scott of Little Horse Lodge. "I helped with First Aid, and to patch him up and calm him down – he was in shock."
Luckily, although his home is in the area, West remained rational enough to stop at the lodge, in case emergency personnel had trouble finding his place.
According to Scott of Little Horse Lodge, the conservation officer went out immediately to search for the bear and subsequently found a cub as well, which was put down. She also said that although they were told a special attack group will be investigating the cause of the incident, she believed the root of the trouble was likely West being positioned between the bear and her cub.
Ambulance and First Responders arrived approximately half hour after the 9-1-1 call and transported West to hospital, where he received 60 stitches to his scalp, face, left arm (in three places), right arm and lip.
"I haven't been able to find any injuries on my dogs. I think one of them may have been cuffed with a paw, so I'm going to check them out again later – right now they are pretty excited to see me," said West on Sunday, just shortly after returning home from picking up his large Labs, who were looked after by Scott and her family at the lodge while he was in hospital.
"In that sort of situation, you only one choice – it's live or die."
The Conservation Officer told him he was very lucky to have survived such an attack. "Most people are too scared to think about living."
West doesn't think of himself as overly tough, however, and maintains the belief that for anyone placed in that situation, "it's just a matter of whether you want to live or not."
It also doesn't hurt, though, to have strength, courage -- and carry a big stick.
Find this article at: http://www.bclocalnews.com/bc_cariboo/100milefreepress/news/WEB_FIRST_-_Attacked_100_Mile_man_kills_bear_with_stick.html