On May 3rd, a brown bear attacked 53-year-old Brent Case along Canada's remote central Pacific coast while he was monitoring river levels for a hydropower project at Ocean Falls near Bella Coola, British Columbia.
As background: Backpacker filmed an Anyplace Wild TV show on Alexander Mackenzie there about 10 years ago. It's where he reached the Pacific in 1793, beating Lewis & Clark by more than a decade. As our crew quickly learned, it's also one of the most beautiful and wildlife-rich areas in all of North America - and bear central.
Now Case has described the attack and aftermath in a 24-minute video interview with the CBC. It's nightmare stuff that harkens back to an off-hand remark in my last post about nastiest ways to die. Case's clear-headed analysis and encyclopedic bear knowledge make this an excellent and very creepy peek into the grizzliest of survival scenarios (yuk-yuk), and a superb primer on bear behavior. However, if you're heading to Glacier, Yellowstone, Alaska or Bella Coola anytime soon, it's like watching Jaws before surfing.
This was apparently a predation attack, rather than a surprise/defense attack. Such incidents, indeed grizzly attacks in general, are unbelievably rare...and thank goodness for that.
As an added note: Severely mauled victims are more common. It is not unusual for brown bear maulees to undergo years of skin grafts, nerve damage and permanent disfigurement. Never attempt to view any bear at close range, or travel quietly through grizzly country in the hopes of seeing one. As Case's recollection makes clear; They ain't Yogi and Boo Boo.
Sweet dreams, campers. --Steve Howe