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Black Bear Boards Boat in Marina to Attack Man

by Sandra McCulloch, Times/Sail-World on 12 Sep 2008
Renfrew Marina - bears over the last five years have been increasing .. .
If you think you have complaints about your local marina, think again. They may not be so serious after all.

For instance, you are probably unlikely to be attacked by a bear while boarding your boat.

In a bizarre incident, a Canadian man is recovering in hospital after he was attacked by a black bear that boarded his boat in Port Renfrew Marina on Vancouver Island at 5 p.m. yesterday.


The 52-year-old man had been fishing with a friend aboard his power boat and returned to the Port Renfrew marina with a coho salmon according to conservation official Gord Hitchcock.

The two men went to the marina office to clean the fish and were returning to the boat when a bear at least 10 years old and weighing 80 kilograms climbed up on the wharf after swimming the Gordon River, and was about 50 metres away when the man boarded the boat.

'The bear immediately followed him and boarded the boat,' said Hitchcock.

'The victim threw his fish in the general vicinity of the bear but the bear attacked the victim in the boat,' he said.

The man's friend tried to pull the bear off the man using a fishing gaffe but was unsuccessful. Five other people swarmed the bear and attacked it with whatever weapons they had available.

'Through the means of gaffes, knives and a hammer they were able to pull the bear off the victim and kill the bear,' Hitchcock said.

The dead bear was left in the boat until a conservation officer arrived to take it away.

The victim's name has not been released and he has declined media interviews.

The animal is undergoing a necropsy in Nanaimo to explore what might have led to the mauling. Initial examination showed it to be elderly and in poor health.

Mike Hicks of Sooke, who owns a fishing resort in Port Renfrew, said he's not at all surprised a bear mauled a fisherman.

Three weeks ago, Hicks called the conservation service about bears. 'We had a problem with bears walking down the pier, going down the ramp and sitting in boats looking for food,' he said.

'Our patrons were shooing them out of the boats and taking pictures. It was absolutely bizarre ... and totally dangerous.'

A female tourist was cornered by a bear but escaped without being harmed, he said.

Hicks wanted the bears moved or killed but the conservation officer said nothing would be done unless someone was in imminent danger.

'They never did send an officer out and yesterday a bear, probably the same bear, took down this fellow,' said Hicks.

Hitchcock said conservation officers responded immediately when they got word of the attack. Two officers were deployed from Nanaimo, one from Ladysmith and one from Sooke. While travelling, they heard the bear had already been killed.

The 5 p.m. attack shocked some local residents, said Dan Tennant, Port Renfrew fire chief. Tennant said such attacks have 'never, ever' happened in the area before.

'I always tell people in Port Renfrew the bears are more afraid of you than you are of them. I encounter [bears] almost daily and they're pretty docile.

'I'm not sure what happened here.'

Since 1986, eight people in B.C. have been killed by black bears while 75 have been injured. Such attacks are rare on Vancouver Island, with reports only coming in over the last five years.

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