Belgian survives bear attack in Canada

22nd July 2008, Comments 0 comments

A 23-year-old Belgian woman attacked by a black bear in the Rocky Mountains emerged with minor injuries.

22 July 2008

BELGIUM - A Belgian woman has survived an attack by a black bear in Banff National Park, in the Rocky Mountains.

Biologists term the incident as highly unusual as bears do not usually attack people.

The 23-year-old Charisse D'hamers has been living and working in the Rocky Mountains since 2007. On Wednesday, she went jogging near Lake Louise when she was surprised by a black bear.

"I backed away, but the bear became aggressive and came slowly towards me", D'hamers said.

"I kept backing away and started making noises, but the bear was not impressed. Eventually, I changed tactics. I laid myself on the ground pretending I was dead."

D'hamers lay on her belly and covered her head with her arms. The bear approached her, sniffed at her for several minutes, licked her and next bit her in both legs and in her back. She stood up, screamed and started running.

The bear eventually disappeared in the woods again. After a 5 km run, Charisse reached a park warden.

No severe injuries
The Belgian was not seriously wounded. She was taken to hospital, but did not have any deep cuts.

Despite the fact that she had already seen black bears in the area, she hadn't taken her bear spray.

"Some say I'm crazy, but I know I won't go jogging without it next time."

The incident is no reason for her to return to Belgium.

"It's only my second summer in Canada. There is still a lot more to discover in the Rocky Mountains."

Extremely rare attack
The incident is big news in Canada, as it is not often people are attacked by a bear.

Mark Boyce, a professor at Alberta University, says the bears are usually shy and do not often attack people. "There are nearly 40,000 black bears in Alberta and attacks on humans are extremely rare."

Parks Canada officials say the last bear attack in the Lake Louise area was in 1995 and involved a grizzly.

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