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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Record turnout for third annual Langley car show against cancer

Brogan’s Diner Fight Against Cancer Car Show was turned into a road trip because of COVID-19

Langley artist Lalita Hamill launches new website to showcase art and share instructional videos

A Zoom session on Saturday, July 18, will serve as a free art assessment and critique at 10 a.m.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Ryan’s Regards: Will the air travel industry once again take flight?

With airlines grounded and staff laid off, going abroad could be more difficult beyond COVID-19

Vandals deface Aldergrove elementary school with racist slur, male genitalia

Langley School District confirms it has filed a report with the Langley RCMP

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Most Read