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

Jenna Forster moderated the Virtual All Candidates Forum between Duck Paterson (top left); Chris Istace (top right); and Doug Routley (Youtube/Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce)
Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates state their case in virtual debate

Duck Paterson, Chris Istace, and Doug Routley are on the ballot for October 24

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

The cover of the 2021 RASTA calendar. (Photo submitted)
Smashed pumpkins provide a royal Thanksgiving feast for RASTA Sanctuary animals

Substantial community donations to purchase pumpkins surpasses the initial goal

Advance polling begins on Oct. 15, 2020, across B.C. in the 2020 snap election. (Black Press files)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Advance voting begins today in Nanaimo-North Cowichan

Advance voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21 in B.C.’s election

The Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates will take part in a virtual candidates forum hosted by the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce and VIREB (Submitted photo)
Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates to participate in virtual candidates forum

The forum will be hosted by the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce and VIREB on October 19

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Most Read