Tourist in bear conflict blames self, not bear

It’s a bit surprising, but certainly welcome: a tourist visiting Canmore found himself face-to-face with a bear, got injured and is blaming himself for the incident.

According to a report in the Calgary Sun, Danish tourist Torben Lund was walking in a park. He noted bear warning signs, but wasn’t worried. Out of a bunch of bushes, a bear emerged.

“It didn’t get up on its hind legs or anything, it just went for me, so it was an actual attack, but probably what they call a defensive attack,” Lund told The Sun. “Probably the bear was feeding on the berries and it felt I was too close so it wanted to scare me — I don’t think it was trying to kill me, or it would have.”

Ordinarily after an incident like this, calls for the killing of the animal are common – and in fact, they are occurring. But Lund himself has noted he does not want the bear relocated or injured in any way due to the incident.

He admits that he saw and dismissed bear warning signs.

“There were signs, but they were just the same signs you see everywhere about being in bear habitat,” said Lund. “I didn’t know there was a bear in the area.”

This story opens to possible lines of discussion:

First, we must look at how the media reported on this item. Initial sensationalism was the norm – ‘man survives bear attack’ type headlines and so on. But Lund worked hard to get his side of the story out, and for that, we congratulate him.

Second, we should reconsider wildlife warning signs. Lund raises a valid point: across Canada, wildlife crossing signs are common. If a coyote is seen in a park, it is standard operating procedure to erect coyote warning signs. But it does not provide real-time, or even up-to-date information to visitors. Perhaps we need to consider digital signs that provide recent information, letting park-goers know that a bear was recently sighted – or that bears sometimes frequent the area.

Overall, this news item is a refreshing change of pace: solutions are being discussed, a ‘victim’ is acting responsibly and the media is actually reporting the facts.

Photo by Tracy Riddell

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