QUALICUM BEACH, B.C. — A British Columbia man’s relaxing beachcombing trip turned into a harrowing fight for survival against a grizzly bear that flailed him around “like a puppet.”
Randal Warnock, 57, said he was walking on Brown Island on B.C.’s central coast for about 15 minutes Monday when a bear suddenly appeared.
“I heard a noise behind me, like a cracking sound out of the bush, and this bear was charging full bore out of the bush and was on me in a couple of seconds,” he said Friday.
The bruiser began biting at Warnock’s legs, shredding his jeans at the knees, then latching onto his right knee.
“I tried to grab my knife out of my back pocket to hit him in the head or something or fend him off but I dropped my knife because I was being shaken off balance,” Warnock said.
“I thought, ‘fight back, fight back.’ “I just had to bluff him back and say ‘No, I’m going to put up a fight.’”
That’s when Warnock decided to punch the bear in the nose.
“He let go and stood back two feet, just looking at my legs. He seemed high on adrenalin. It was like a video on high speed, it was just so amazingly fast,” he said.
“His head was bobbing around and he looked like he was going to lunge at me. I grabbed a log and was going to throw it at his head but it slipped out and landed between us and then he just turned around and ran off into the bush.”
Warnock, a BC Ferries captain who operates the vessel Nimpkish from Bella Coola to Bella Bella, said he’d been steering his fishing boat for six hours when he decided to leave the rough waters and stretch his legs on the beach.
But what he encountered left him thinking: “Is this how it’s going to end?”
When the bear walked away, Warnock said he hobbled to his skiff to get to his boat, leaving behind a bloody trail.
He bandaged himself up on his boat as he headed toward the nearest hospital in Port Hardy and called the Canadian Coast Guard, which sent a couple of vessels that arrived two hours later.
Warnock received 30 stitches, some on his ring finger and his left knee, but most of them were around his right knee.
He said there may be some minor nerve damage to his right leg but he feels lucky that the bear was not fully grown.
Warnock later remembered seeing a bunch of eagles in a tree and thought the bear might have been feeding on a dead seal or sea lion and attacked him to protect its meal.
The province’s Environment Ministry says on its website that anyone who comes across a bear should not make eye contact, scream or turn their back.
“They’re pretty formidable, grizzly bears,” Warnock said of the animals he’d seen a couple of times from a distance while hunting deer. “I’d rather not have any interactions with them.”
Warnock said he has no plans to return to the beach where he dropped his cellphone before the bear pounced on him.
— By Camille Bains in Vancouver. Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
The Canadian Press