Quadra Island man makes international headlines after encounter with grizzly bear
QUADRA ISLAND, B.C. -- The owner of a Quadra Island vineyard now knows what it’s like to have “15 minutes of fame” after getting international media attention for his recent encounter with a grizzly bear, during which he was wearing next to nothing.
“I’m billed as, ‘Man in underwear throws rock at grizzly,’” Ben McGuffie says with a chuckle.
The notoriety comes after McGuffie was awakened by some noise on his property on the Island’s southern end around 10 p.m. Monday evening.
“Got out of bed to see what was up,” he says. “When I looked over here I could see one of the goats dashing through that pen and something large and brown chasing after it and I thought, ‘Oh no, it is a bear.’”
The grizzly was chasing McGuffie’s Nigerian Dwarf goats and is believed to have taken one away earlier in the day as well.
McGuffie and his wife Jill both grabbed whatever they could when they first went to fight off the bear. Ben had a deck brush and his wife had some plywood. He says the bear was unfazed when he threw the brush, but then left when Ben hit it with a rock.
“I think I got it,” he says. “I don’t imagine missing it would have made it take off. It took off into the hill in the back.”
The couple then cleared away some space inside their home so that the goats – named “Atlantic Ocean” and “Diamond Tierra” – would be safe.
He contacted conservation officers Tuesday morning and says they were at his property shortly after.
“We were aware of the grizzly bear on the northern end of Quadra Island three to four weeks ago,” says conservation officer Gord Gudbranson.
He says the bear then began heading towards the southern part of the island, which is more populated.
Gudbranson says grizzlies have been moving west to other islands north of Quadra as well as Vancouver Island. Most of the calls have been simple sightings.
Officers have set a trap for the grizzly and are also advising islanders to be on the lookout for the bear.
“We are just letting people know that if they are out and about and they do see a grizzly bear, to make sure they do report it to the RAPP number as soon as possible” he says.
Islanders are also urged to do what they can to keep the bear from coming around.
“Property owners are to do their part and secure their attractants at all times, specifically for livestock and people – if people are out and about with their pets – we recommend that they don’t go into the forests, keep their pets on a leash and make lots of noise, more than usual,” Gudbranson says.
Joanna Annett recorded a grizzly on her cell phone on Sunday at the northern end of the island after the bear walked through her yard.
“I was absolutely in awe,” she says. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful animal and got my adrenaline going. I was pumped.”
But, as a nurse, she says she has also seen what can sometimes happen when humans and grizzlies come into contact with each other.
“We were all totally shocked because it’s not good to see grizzly bears here,” she says. “I’ve seen the aftermath of bear attacks first-hand as a nurse working on the coast.”
Her husband Rory was celebrating his 60th birthday when the bear appeared. He says he and a few guests who were visiting also knew right away what was in the yard.
“For all of us, it wasn’t a question of, ‘Oh, there’s a bear,’ it was, ‘Oh, there’s a grizzly,’ and we went so far as to know it was a male and it was two years old, roughly.”
Rory says the bear was simply doing what two-year-old bears do.
“They look for a new home,” he says. “They have to because if they encounter their old man, they’re probably not going to make it.”
The retired forester believes that the grizzlies who are expanding their range will come into increasing levels of conflict with humans.
“Human populations are going up and their populations are expanding; that causes challenges,” he says.