COLUMN: Bearing down on irrational fears

The furor created by an urban bear sighting in Abbotsford is really quite something to behold.

COLUMN: Bearing down on irrational fears

The furor created by an urban bear sighting is really quite something to behold.

Now, I don’t mean to be flippant. A bear wandering around a residential neighbourhood is clearly not a situation to be trifled with.

However, to those of us who have occasionally encountered the critters in the backwoods, the bear fear factor is likely a degree or two less than the average city dweller.

Now, there was a time when I used to be anxious about bears. I once spent the better part of a night huddled in a small tent, listening with dread to something stumbling and snuffling outside.

When I finally screwed up enough courage to open the tent door, I was confronted by a curious, clumsy deer with nasal congestion.

After gathering myself up from the back of the tent, where I had launched upon the face-to-face meeting with the doe, I vowed in future to confront my irrational fear of bears.

I have a favourite story of how that eventually occurred.

It took place some years later, on a fishing trip with friends at an Interior lake.

Always an early riser, I was up and about one morning, getting a campfire going, and making breakfast preparations.

I noticed movement in the treeline not far from camp, and watched as a bear shuffled out from among the pines. It wasn’t your standard-issue black, but a rather sizable brown fellow. (Same family, different colour.)

He seemed to be minding his own business, until he caught scent of my bacon and eggs, gently sizzling on the camp stove.

He promptly invited himself over.

I had scant moments to settle on a plan of action.

Running wasn’t really an option. In front of me was the bear. Scratch that route. Behind me was an ice-cold lake. Death by bear, or hypothermia…

To the left was fairly thick underbrush, and to the right, a couple of trucks.

I could have scrambled up on one of the vehicles, I suppose. But what I knew of a bear’s climbing ability, I felt that was pretty pointless, if not downright cowardly.

By now, the bruin was now at the opposite end of the picnic table, gazing fondly at my frying pan.

Somewhere, I had read that bears are frightened by loud noises.

Within my reach was a metal kettle, but I lacked any substantial metal with which to hit it.

I rapidly settled on a rather punky piece of firewood at my feet. The first few strikes were rather mufled, given the mushy condition of the wood. The noise wouldn’t have scared a squirrel.

Well, that caused me to bang away on that kettle with extreme motivation.

The bear shifted its gaze to me, and watched with growing concern.

I don’t think it was alarmed by the sound whatsoever. I’m sure it was looking at me and thinking, “That lunatic could hurt someone!”

With a final, longing look at my (our) morning meal, he swung his bulk around, and with bruin-like decorum, ambled into the underbrush.

It took another few minutes before I ceased my adrenaline-fuelled attack on the kettle, which had been reduced to a crumpled, compacted piece of tin. The deadwood was a shredded stump.

My sleepy friends were by now sticking their heads out of tents and trucks, wondering what all the commotion was about … and when breakfast would be ready.

I adopted two important principles that morning.

Bacon and eggs take precedent over irrational fear.

Bears are afraid of crazy people.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

White Rock’s Joan Bywater shows the setup she uses when participating in online paint parties hosted by the Seniors Come Share Society. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual gallery showcases inspirations of Semiahmoo Peninsula seniors

‘What is art if not something that motivates more art?’

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read