Friday, July 18, 2008

Bear Attacks Trail Runner in Calgary

Charisse D'hamers, a trail runner living in Calgary, Canada, was attacked while out on her usual 10km trail run a couple of days. Luckily, she survived with minor injuries despite being bitten 8 times.

You can read the details here. Note to self - playing dead does not work with bears! Best to get big and yell.

- SD


  1. that is some scary stuff. i run in grizzly country all the time. my new handheld is bear spray... i just need to remember to drink from the correct hand.

  2. yikes!
    luck, lucky
    My main concern is lions, but bears are still potential threats. No griz here in Colorado. Black bears have to be stood up to, but not stared directly at. Growling probabl helps, too.
    I'm a trail-bum who doesn't bathe as much as I should and sleeps from the back of my CR-V. I wonder if smelling like I often do will protect me? pyooo-eeee! poor bear

  3. wow -- i encountered a black bear while running in the sandia crest (near albuquerque) just two days ago. he was probably as startled as i was since by the time i rounded the corner he was already booking it downhill and away from me.

    i spent the rest of the run having loud conversations with myself so as not to startle anyone else who might be foraging along the trail.

    anyone know if bear bells work (dorkiness aside, of course)?

  4. This one's a little close to home for me living in Banff. Actually the incident occurred in Lake Louise which is about 180kms from Calgary and about 55kms from Banff.
    The woman was running on the old 1A highway which is basically a decommissioned road so it's certainly not a deep backcountry trail but the road has lots of vegetation on both sides so it would be very easy to surprise a bear.

    After surprising the bear she apparently started to backtrack but the bear followed her and she decided to lay down and play dead. The bear came over and licked and bit her, probably out of curiosity.
    I don't think this was a serious attack in the sense of a predatory bear but terrifying nonetheless. Hopefully the bear will not be destroyed as a result of its actions but the fact that it pursued her is a sign of a habituated bear not a backcountry bear.

    It's difficult to figure everything out from newspaper reports but there was no mention of bear spray. I would say to anyone spending any time in the backcountry to buy a can of bear spray and learn how to use it. I can almost guarantee that it would have prevented this situation from developing into what it did, but again I am making assumptions based on newspaper reports.

    The best advice is to carry bear spray, travel in numbers if possible and make lots of noise. Bear bells don't do much except identify you as a tourist :)

    Let's hope for her quick recovery and let's all take a little extra care out there, wherever we are.

    Last week some boaters in Banff witnessed a cougar take down a Big Horn Sheep which happens all the time but is rarely seen.
    Article is here:

  5. Hey Scott, I just subscribed to your feed! nice blog! Luckily I run in the city so no need to fear bears, just trucks, busses and bikers.

  6. So it's Grizzlies you play dead for and Black Bears you stand up to? Or vice versa?

    I found lots of bear poo last year out at my favorite state park...they love the wild blackberries which are nice and ripe

    Off to get some bear spray and a cowbell.

  7. Hi Scott,

    luckly for me I was at a race that weeekend on a diferent area, I live in Calgary and run in Banff and you know why I am getting faster...


  8. Apparently, bear bells often attract the attention of bears.

    When you see a black bear, as well as a mountain lion, make yourself look big and loud; if attacked, always fight back. With a grizzly, playing dead (lying on your stomach and covering your neck and head with your arms) when attacked is probably your best bet to stay alive. Bear spray would work well if you have time to use it... if the bear surprises you quickly, it may be worthless.

    At least that's what I was taught while working in Glacier NP, which used to have more bear-related deaths than any other park in North America. I hope this helps.

  9. I'm kinda happy we don't have Grizzlies here in California. Black Bears I've run into a bunch of times already, but Grizzlies....those scare me

  10. Unfortunate encounter for sure. Good reminder on bear encounter protocol, glad the girl wasn't hurt any worse.

  11. That's always the worry out here in Washington. However, every time I've been on the trails, I never see a bear...only bear poop and LOTS OF IT!!!!


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