A black bear feeds on dandelions. (Michael Penn/Black Press Media)

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

It’s not everyday one goes out for a jog and ends up in a tree – for hours – as a large black bear patrols below, but that’s exactly what happened to Francis Levasseur while on a secluded trail in the West Kootenays recently.

Levasseur, 42, was out for an afternoon run near a friend’s farm in the Slocan Valley community of Hills, B.C., on Victoria Day long weekend when he came across the bear.

At first, Levasseur did what any expert would advise: he walked slowly, didn’t turn his back and managed to pick up a stick and wave it wildly to try and scare the four-legged predator, standing roughly 100 metres away.

But, the bear didn’t seem to care and started walking towards Levasseur. His walk turned into a run.

“I was not expecting that reaction from him,” Levasseur told Black Press Media. “I knew what he wanted right away.”

Levasseur’s quick reaction was to climb up a nearby tree – one that was too small for the large bruin to climb, and waited for nearly two hours for the bear to leave, to no avail.

“I was screaming, shaking the tree and throwing branches at the ground,” he recalled, but the bear had its own plan in mind, walking out of sight to try and trick Levasseur into thinking he was safe to climb down.

He even tried urinating on the tree – a known method to deter nosey bears.

“At the beginning, I was trying to plan an escape, but I imagined what if I start running and he catches me and goes for my guts first … I would be the spectator of my own death.”

ALSO WATCH: Bear catches ‘rascally rabbit’ for breakfast near Whistler bus stop

Luckily for Levasseur, an experienced emergency responder who lives nearby named Mat Phillips eventually heard distant yells for help from his farmhouse near the trail.

With bear spray in hand and a machete in the other, Phillips and his dog were able to find Levasseur and scare the bear away, then drove the exhausted jogger home.

Phillips, who is the president of the Hills Emergency Services Society, went back out into the wooded area the next day – this time with bear biologist Wayne McCrory – to search for the bear, but couldn’t find it. They did find a blue snowmobile, which appeared to have been abandoned in the winter and overturned by the bear.

Levasseur’s wild experience is rather rare when it comes to black bear encounters in the province, but serves as a good reminder that B.C. has officially entered its annual bear season.

There were 624 calls to the BC Conservation Officer Service about black bears in April, with 103 being attended by an officer. Fourteen bears were euthanized. Those stats are typical for the beginning of spring, according to provincial government data.

Levasseur admitted that his mistake was not bringing bear spray with him, even though his jog was intended to be a short one. As someone who has lived and worked in the bush for nearly a decade, this isn’t his first time getting close to a bear, but it’s certainly an incident he won’t forget.

“I’m more comfortable with animals, they are more predictable than humans,” Levasseur said. “But that one was not predictable at all.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Wildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Shuswap potter’s empty bowls help fill food bank

Mud, Sweat and Tears’ Bruce Nyeste expects project to raise $12,000 for Salmon Arm’s Second Harvest

Columbia Shuswap Regional District warns ‘dock hogs’ to follow time limits

Boats have been moored for days in some cases at public boat launch docks

Volunteers pull off late-night eagle rescue in Salmon Arm

Bird bound for a rehabilitation centre in Delta

Salmon Arm firefighters respond to nighttime garage blaze

Residential structure fire at Canoe property quickly extinguished

Shuswap River levels declining but remain ‘unseasonably high’

Users warned that some recreational activities common this time of year may not yet be safe

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Security guard assaulted in Kamloops park thanks police, public for quick arrest

Glen Warner, 71, was attacked on July 2 by a man who was asked by Warner to not smoke

Portraits celebrating Syilx culture now on display at Kelowna International Airport

Sheldon Pierre Louis’ art will be on display at YLW from now until July 2021

After slow start, Summerland sees more tourism activity

Majority of visitors come from within British Columbia

EDITORIAL: Accommodating Okanagan fruit pickers

Campsite for agricultural workers to open in Summerland

Deer and moose die after being chased by dogs in South Okanagan

BC conservation officers are asking the public to control their pets

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

Most Read