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

Rod Stebbings and Shawn Lord from Cranbrook’s Power Paving. Photo: Gail Landon
Creston Royal Canadian Legion receives free driveway upgrade

“With Remembrance Day around the corner, we got the most wonderful gift”

Creston RCMP detachment. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Creston police report: 48 calls for assistance from Oct. 19 to 26

On Oct. 25, police responded to a report of a theft of cash from a Creston business in which the suspect reached over the counter and took money from the register

The Creston Fire Rescue (CFR) insignia. File photo
Creston Fire Rescue report: nine calls for action between Oct. 19 and 25

At 9:41 a.m. on Oct. 21, CFR responded to a call of downed power-lines in the area of Fourth Avenue North and Pine Street

Brittny Anderson. Photo: Submitted
UPDATED: NDP’s Brittny Anderson named provisional winner in Nelson-Creston

The final result won’t be known until November due to mail-in ballots

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

A Cranbrook mother is receiving praise across the world for her design of a sensory path aimed at helping kids in school when they need a movement break. (Chantal Marra file)
Cranbrook mother receives international praise for sensory paths business

Chantal Marra has sold her sensory path packages to schools across the world

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Most Read