PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. — A grizzly bear with no fear of humans has been greeting visitors near Prince Rupert’s Cannery Row, putting a serious scare into several people in recent weeks.
The bear was spotted by staff at the North Pacific Historic Village a few weeks ago, and at the side of the road near an old cannery.
In the latest incident, Marcus Griffin was hiking along the tracks last week when he encountered the bear about three kilometres past the Cassiar Cannery.
“It was a sunny day, I had a backpack on my back and I wanted to get a visual of some property I own on Smith Island across the water,” Griffin said.
He heard a peculiar call from a Stellar blue jay, and whistled back to let the bird know he was there. Then about nine metres away he heard a crashing noise and saw the bear.
“I backed up four or five steps to get a distance and he started coming at me. I’m six foot three and 225 pounds — he looked to be about three years old and 300 to 400 pounds. I bluffed, charged and started barking like a dog,” Griffin said.
It was enough to stop the bear, which then stared down on the Prince Rupert man. Griffin continued to scream and yell and eventually it began to retreat.
“I couldn’t find a rock big enough along the tracks to throw, but he finally went off into the bush,” he said.
Once Griffin felt the bear would leave him to be, he continued hiking. After reading about a previous bear sighting in the area he decided he’d better let people know this bruin isn’t afraid of human beings.
“I noticed his tracks along the beach and was told by a forestry friend that he’s probably looking for new territory. My main concern is that he came at me and if someone was walking along and the same thing happened, they might not know what to do,” he said.
Griffin is no stranger to the bush and has lots of experience hunting. He was attacked by a cougar on Vancouver Island once and ended up shooting it in self-defence.
“These days I’d rather shoot photographs of animals,” he said.
Griffin said the bear was probably munching on skunk cabbage moments before the encounter, and knew full well he was there.
“The wind was westerly on my back and he let me walk by within 30 feet of him. If it hadn’t been for that blue jay, I don’t know what would have happened.”