Before our week-long camping road trip extravaganza last summer, my husband and I were a little curious about bears.
We both wanted to see one on our trip (only he was successful – I was reading a pamphlet about spotting wildlife while one darted across the highway in front of us), and I wanted us not to get eaten. I think he would have been okay with one of us (probably me) getting eaten, though.
He saw one news story from the Spring that stood out. In May of 2013, a 30-year-old Toronto man was attacked and mauled by a 400-pound black bear as he sat on the front step of his remote cabin eating breakfast. The man’s German Shepherd ran to his defence, and the man ran into the cabin for shelter. The bear killed the dog then tried to get through the cabin’s window. The man ran back outside, got about 30-metres, and was tackled by the bear, who started chewing on him. Two women who were camping nearby scared the bear off and drove the man to hospital, where he received more than 300 stitches.
The part that resonated with my husband was the man’s quote: “He knocked me down and I covered my head. He took my shoulder apart, then he peeled the skin off my head and started biting my skull… I could feel his teeth rubbing against my skull. That was the worst feeling ever. I jammed my thumb into his eye and so he went back to my shoulder… I was just screaming. I could feel my flesh being pulled by his teeth.”
Yeah. That’s the kind of thing that will probably stick with him (and now me) forever.
But this incident happened way farther north than we were considering going, so neither one of us really thought that much more about it.
(As a side note, it’s amazing how much one’s perspective can change in a relatively short period of time. We made it “all the way up” to Sault Ste. Marie and decided to go even further into the wilds. We drove to Chapleau, looked at a map, and briefly considered visiting Timmins before laughing off the ideas as absurd because “we’d never live so far away.” Just a few weeks from now, I’m sure a trip “all the way down” to Sudbury will feel just as extreme.)
Once firmly planted back “down south,” our fascination with black bears came to a standstill, and we’ve barely broached the subject since.
(Polar bears have been another matter altogether.)
But when Mr. B looked up Ontario Provincial Police and Cochrane under news, he came to a startling discovery; that attack happened near our new house – just down the street, actually.
I am a little aghast. He is a lot delighted.
When we relayed this information to my mother-in-law, her reaction was a bit more practical: “I guess this means you can’t leave the baby outside unattended.”
I think she may be right.