A black bear similar to this one charged at a Summerland woman bike riding on Conkle Mountain in Summerland (September 2020.) (Black Press file photo)

A black bear similar to this one charged at a Summerland woman bike riding on Conkle Mountain in Summerland (September 2020.) (Black Press file photo)

‘I could hear him huffing and see the whites of his eyes,’ says Okanagan woman about her bear encounter

Bear charges at woman mountain biking on Conkle Mountain

Summerland resident Janice Kitson is still shaken after being chased by a bear while biking on Conkle Mountain recently.

It was a more intimate encounter with nature than she was expecting.

“He is beside my back wheel and I could have put my arm around his neck, he was that close.”

Kitson was coming down Conkle Bonk on the canyon above the rodeo grounds, at around 11 a.m. on Sept. 16, when the bear came out of nowhere.

“I was having an excellent ride and thinking about what time I would finish it in, when I heard some sort of crashing in the bush to the right of the trail, above me,” Kitson recalls.

“It is a narrow area, so I chanced a quick look behind me and saw the bear galloping full speed at me – I could hear him huffing and breathing hard and see the whites of his eyes.”

With the bear behind her, Kitson pedalled as fast as she could, going off the trail and down towards the canyon.

“I think that because a small tree and patch of bush came between us, he went a bit left then ran past me and stopped six to eight feet away,” said Kitson. “I stopped and was thinking omg, omg he’s going to come back.”

That’s when the big bear stood up and snorted a number of times.

Kitson stood very still beside the little tree, thinking that if she could keep the bike between her and the bear, she might not get too mauled.

Then the dark brown bruin turned and ran off.

Kitson tried to get back on her bike and ride away but then the severity of the incident set in.

“I had to sit down for about 15 minutes, I was shaking so violently. How he didn’t hit me is a mystery to me – the way he came crashing out of the bush with dust flying everywhere.”

It’s been over a week since Kitson’s encounter with the bear and the scene still plays out in her mind.

READ MORE: Bear sightings up in Central Okanagan

Kitson says the same bear was seen last week closer to the gazebo on the north side of the Trans Canada Trail, and she believes she saw the same bear two weeks ago.

For years, Kitson and other Summerland residents have enjoyed the many trails on Conkle Mountain without incident. There have always been bears there, she hasn’t heard of any aggressive ones.

According to WildSafeBC, fall is when bears go through hyperphagia (“extreme eating”) when they require an average of 20,000 calories per day.

A mother and cubs have been spotted near the rodeo grounds this week too and another bear has been spotted in town.

READ MORE: Bear closes popular park

One thing that makes this year different in Kitson’s opinion, is that with COVID-19 more people and dogs are trying to get outside in the fresh air, making the trails busier than other years.

“Bears see canines as a threat to their cubs and their food,” said BC Conservation Officer Dave Cox.

Conservation officers have been getting calls about bear sightings, but not any calls about aggressive bears.

“What happened with that bear is not normal behaviour for them. It could have been that the bear was being defensive of some nearby food or that she surprised him,” Cox said.

He always recommends calling the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 so they can investigate and warn people about the incident or area of bear sightings.

“Calling us doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to get that bear,” he added.

This time of year, bears are attracted to all the rotting fruit in the South Okanagan and so it isn’t unusual to see them this time of year.

“We have another month of bears and then they go away to hibernate around Halloween,” said Cox.

Cox says if you are going out hiking in the mountains, it’s best to bring bells, talk and go in groups so you let bears know you are there. If you encounter a bear, talk calmly to it, don’t scream, back away and leave them an escape route if possible.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bearsWildlife

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

Just Posted

Smithers Local Health Area reported just one new case of COVID-19 from Feb. 14-20. (BC CDC graphic)
Local weekly COVID infections drop to one

The Smithers Local Health Area (Houston to Witset) reported a single case between Feb. 14 and20

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Smithers Weekly Police Blotter: Feb 12 – 19

Smithers RCMP open 83 new files including 15 property crime cases

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s new Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
‘Stay local’: Dr. Henry shoots down spring break travel for British Columbians

B.C. is reportedly working with other provincial governments to determine March break policies

“Our biggest challenge has been the amount of vaccine,” said FNHA acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. (First Nations Health Authority Facebook photo)
All First Nations on reserve to be vaccinated by end of March: First Nations Health Authority

Vaccinations continuing for B.C. First Nations amid shortages

(Delta Police Department photo)
B.C. youth calls 911 after accruing $7K in online gaming charges

‘Police spoke with the student about appropriate times to call 911’

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Most Read