B.C. man comes out swinging in bear attack
Warning: this story contains graphic details
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 CBC News
Jim West needed 60 stitches on his head and body to close wounds from the bear attack. (CBC)
A Cariboo, B.C., man who was attacked by a bear says he used a stick to put up the fight of his life after he realized he was likely in a fight to the death.
Jim West, 45, was out walking last Saturday morning with his two dogs near 70 Mile House, about halfway between Kamloops and Williams Lake, when he came face to face with an angry mother bear.
"I turned [when] I heard a grunt. All I saw was eyes full of hatred … I had no option … So I stuck my foot up and tried to kick her in the face," he said.
The bear then attacked him, knocking him to the ground, and West soon found himself on the losing side of an ill-matched fight.
"I rolled onto my stomach and clasped my hands at the back of my neck. She tore into my skull at the back of my head, moved over and bit me on the left side of my body, on my ribs and left arm," said West.
Knowing he would likely soon be dead unless he fought back, the injured West managed to get to his feet and picked up a stick about as thick as his arm.
Bear's skull crushed
"I said, in effect, bring it on sweetie. I took one step forward — smash!" said West.
"I swung the stick and broke it over her head. She kind of stood there and shook it off, like she was stunned," he said.
"I realized if I didn't continue the attack she would knock me to the ground again and I would not get up.
"I swung my piece of wood like a sledgehammer driving spikes and I kept swinging till she was lying flat on the ground and there was blood coming out of her nose," said West.
The five-foot-nine man eventually crushed the bear's skull with the stick, killing it.
West then walked a kilometre and a half to a local lodge, where he was transported to hospital. The gashes in his body took 60 stitches to sew up.
The incident surprised even conservation officers, who say West is lucky to be alive.
Unfortunately, two young bears had to be euthanized because they would not survive the winter without their mother, West said. And while he regrets the deaths of the three bears, he believes he did what he needed to do to survive.
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