‘Colin Dowler ended up in a Life-or-Death Struggle with a Grizzly Bear in B.C.’
A Canadian man from Dowler, British Columbia survived a brutal grizzly bear attack by stabbing the animal in the neck with a 2-inch pocket knife, according to reports.
Colin Dowler, 45, was mountain biking in the remote back country of British Columbia outside of the city of Power River on July 29 when he spotted a large male grizzly.
Dowler stopped about 100 feet away from the bear in order to decide what he should do next—stay still, ride past the bear, or cycle in the opposite direction. Dowler stated, “he wasn’t really sure what to do about the situation,” “I largely stood there, and let the grizzly keep walking up towards me.”
As the bear approached him, Dowler—now becoming more nervous—tried to stay as still as possible so as not to provoke the bear. When the bear was too close for comfort, Dowler tried to nudge him away with a hiking pole, BBC reported. A brief tug-of-war ensued before Dowler threw his bike at the animal, the report said.
However, the bear began swatting at him with its paws. Eventually, Dowler threw the bike at the animal in another attempt to make it leave. The bear then grabbed Dowler by the stomach and dragged him to a ditch about 50 feet away. Dowler said he tried to play dead as the animal bit into his arm, foot, and thigh.
“It was so much pain and weirdness, I could feel the hot blood,” he told the BBC. “I’m being rag-dolled, suspended by my flank by a bear carrying me.”
The bear then dragged him to a ditch around 50 feet away and began biting into his arm, foot and thighs. In an attempt to free himself, Dowler tried gouging the bear’s eyes and playing dead but neither seemed to work.
“It sounded like it was grating my bones up,” Dowler told CBC.
Then Dowler remembered that he had a small pocket knife in the pocket of his pants.
“Somehow, I don’t know how I did it. I used both hands to pull underneath the bear to get to that knife, and I grabbed the knife out and opened it and put it in [my] hand and stabbed the bear in his neck,” he said.
“It let go of me immediately. It was bleeding quite badly. I wasn’t really sure if it was dying faster than I was,” he said.
The bear backed off slightly and Dowler then cut off one his shirt sleeves to use as a tourniquet on his injured leg. He then managed to clamber onto his bike and cycle away down the logging road.
“I was thinking I’m not going to make it,” he said. “It was pretty freaking scary.”
After about 4 and a half miles he passed a worksite where he collapsed and called for help. Five workers rushed to his help and administered first aid.
“They just went to work, doing their best to save my life,” he told the BBC. “They’re truly the heroes of the story because there’s no way I would have made it without [them].”
Vittorio Giannandrea, one of the five men who attended to Dowler at Ramsey Arm worksite, said that when they saw him initially, they were “shocked and unnerved.”
“Then we began talking to him, cutting off the clothing on the apparent wounds where blood soaked through everything and just used as many hands, large bandages and other materials to stop the bleeding and cover the wounds,” Giannandrea told CBC.
The workers then called an air ambulance which took him to a hospital in Vancouver where he is now recovering.
Officers from the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service subsequently tracked the bear down following the attack and euthanized it.
British Columbia is home to around 15,000 grizzly bears, as well as some 120,000-150,000 black bears.
However, unprovoked bear attacks are extremely rare, in large part because the animals usually like to avoid contact with humans.
Nevertheless, the province of British Columbia provides the following advice if you do encounter a bear in backcountry:
-Stay calm: If the bear sees you, talk in a low, calm voice and then regardless if it has seen you or not.
-Back up slowly: Never turn your back on a bear, or run. Running could trigger an attack.
-Do not stare: The bear will see a direct stare as a challenge.
-Give it space: Make sure it has a way to get away, and that you are not blocking access to a bear’s cubs or its food.
-If a bear approaches you or charges: Do not run!
-Use your bear spray as it approaches
If you are being attacked, you have two options: Play dead or fight back.
Defensive attack: “Usually, bears charge or attack because they are feeling threatened. Use your bear spray. If you don’t have bear spray and the bear makes contact with you—roll on your stomach, cover the back of your neck, remain still and play dead, they will lose interest and leave. Do NOT run!”
Predatory attack: “In rare cases, a bear may see a human as prey and stalk you along a trail. In these cases, try to escape into a building, car or up a tree. If you cannot escape and the bear charges, use your bear spray, lacking that, use anything at your disposal to fight off the bear (rocks, sticks, hiking poles).”