A 61-year-old Canadian man has walked away from a dust-up with a 130kg big momma black bear with just a few scratches after responding to the incensed animal’s attack by punching it in the nose.
Rick Nelson from Sudbury in Ontario was walking his dog near Lake Panache at the weekend, when he came across the bear’s cub.
‘I sat down on a log and the bear cub poked its head out of the shrub nearby,’ he told CBC News. ‘It was so close I could touch it. It let out a yelp, because I scared the heck out of it… I knew right away I was in trouble. It’s calling for mommy.’
A former bear hunter, Nelson lept to his feet immediately, knowing every moment would make a difference between survival and death. And sure enough, an angry adult female bear was heading right for him.
‘The mother was coming full speed,’ he recounts. ‘All you could hear was the bush crashing.’
Within seconds the bear was in front of Nelson, rearing up on its hind legs. He had no time to grab a rock or stick, but he did have some boxing experience to fall back on, and he made a quick decision to land the first blow. However, his first swing only grazed the bear’s teeth, and she swiped him back, scratching his face and chest.
Nelson claims he kept his calm and came up with a fight plan. ‘I knew it would swing first with its left but it would really come with its right, because most bears are right-handed.’
His second punch needed to count. ‘I had the perfect shot to take,’ he recalls. ‘I did an underhand and hit it right in the snout.’
At that point, the bear cub squealed again and started to move away, and Nelson knew his life depended on what the female bear decided to do next.
‘Now it was the moment of truth’ he says. ‘What’s this bear going to do? Is it going to follow its cub or is it going to come after me? [The bear] turned around and it was snorting blood. It looked at me, and I thought, “Oh no. Here it comes.” But it just turned back around and walked away like nothing ever happened and followed the cub… So I really lucked out there.’
Yes, he did. But black bears are not typically aggressive, and rarely attack humans unless they feel threatened, or believe their cubs are at risk. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry told reporters that this was the first report of a bear attack this year, and even Nelson knows it was nothing personal.
‘Black bears really aren’t dangerous unless you have a cub involved,’ he says. ‘Sometimes black bears get a really bad rap. Probably they’re more afraid of you and [me], than we are of them… I’m really glad that the bear walked away. And I’m really glad I did too.’
Listen to Rick recount his experience here. [geoip-content not_country=”CA”]
Want to learn more about bears? We’ve got a great selection of natural history documentaries on the subject, including Search for the Ghost Bears, now streaming on the Love Nature app—for the best on demand natural history programming out there. Sign up today for your 30-day free trial.
ON THE APP
The documentary Search for the Ghost Bears, explains how ancient aboriginal legend speaks of the mythical ghost bears roaming the isolated coastal rainforests of British Columbia. Separate fact from fiction as we take you through the biologically diverse ecosystem in which these ghostly animals haunt. [/geoip-content]