North Vancouver trail closed after aggressive bear charges at hikers

·2 min read
Black bears are coming out of hibernation and people are being told to back away slowly while from a surprise encounter, while shouting at the animal to leave.  (Submitted by Vince Mai - image credit)
Black bears are coming out of hibernation and people are being told to back away slowly while from a surprise encounter, while shouting at the animal to leave. (Submitted by Vince Mai - image credit)

A Vancouver man says he was scratched by a black bear that started behaving aggressively along Peer Gynt Trail to Mount Fromme on Vancouver's North Shore and he's glad no one else was injured.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has closed the trail for at least 24 hours while officers search for the animal.

At around noon on Friday, Fred Hawley, 30, and his wife were hiking in the area when he saw the bear coming close to a woman nearby.

Hawley said, "The bear was really, really close to her and ... had been circling her a bit and then it charged up."

He explained that they tried to follow advice given by wildlife experts to back away slowly and say, "whoa bear." But that didn't help and the bear kept charging forward.

"That's when it scratched or clawed my leg," said Hawley.

Fred Hawley was swiped at by a bear Friday during a hike on Mount Fromme on Vancouver's North Shore. He suffered a minor scratch and was treated by emergency crews at the scene.
Fred Hawley was swiped at by a bear Friday during a hike on Mount Fromme on Vancouver's North Shore. He suffered a minor scratch and was treated by emergency crews at the scene.(Submitted by Fred Hawley)

He said the group of three hikers then started to go back down the trail even though the bear kept following them. Then a fourth hiker on the trail was also charged at by the animal.

Hawley said the animal appeared to be a male cub that seemed to be playing with them. It eventually left them alone before a fifth person joined their group and help later arrived.

North Vancouver RCMP say they received a 911 call and sent officers to the area using an access road.

Hawley was treated for his scratches at the scene and the Conservation Officer Service closed the trail for the next 24 hours.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service predator attack team said it plans to remain on scene and is continuing an investigation, which includes patrols of the area to search for the bear.

The Conservation Officer Service is reminding the public to take precautions and follow bear safety tips in the wilderness to help avoid conflicts with wildlife.

Hawley said the experience was unexpected because they were close to a residential area.

"I guess the scary part about it is that when we've done back country trips, we've brought bear spray and the bells and first aid kits and all that. But this was just kind of like we were 20 minutes out of backyards."