An “unusually aggressive” black bear apparently attracted by a freshly cleaned salmon climbed into a powerboat docked at a small Vancouver Island, British Columbia marina Tuesday evening and viciously attacked the fisherman aboard the craft.
During the mauling, the man’s fishing companion and 5 other men hurried to the victim’s defense and used a fishing gaff, hammer and fillet knives to subdue and ultimately kill the bruin.
The unidentified fisherman was airlifted to a Victoria hospital where he is recovering from non-life threatening lacerations and puncture wounds inflicted during the attack.
Eyewitnesses say the large bear swam across The Gordon River at the Port Renfrew Marina, jumped onto a dock then followed the angler who was carrying a coho salmon he had just finished cleaning.
“The victim threw his fish in the general vicinity of the bear but the bear attacked the victim in the boat,” conservation officer Gordon Hitchcock told the Times Colonist newspaper.
Fishing guide Bruce Miller, one of the men credited with saving the mauling victim’s life, said he “just reacted” when he saw the bear on top of the man.
“I ran out of my boat, I grabbed my gaff–my halibut gaff–on my way there,” he told the Victoria Times & Transcript Wednesday.
With one foot inside the boat and one foot out, Miller said he whacked the bear several times with the gaff, trying to pull the 175-pound bruin off the victim.
“He wanted to eat that guy,” Miller said. “That’s all there was. He was after him, and nothing was going to stop that bear from getting what he wanted.”
That’s when other bystanders rushed to help with whatever they could grab to use as weapons.
“There was three or four of us, just kind of held that bear there, while we cut his throat,” Miller said.
In the aftermath of the incident, fishermen cleaning their catches at the Port Renfrew marina are now refraining from their usual practice of throwing fish guts onto the shore for the scavenging bears, according to news reports.
That’s probably a good idea.