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Bear attack victim was among first at remote work camp

The victim of a mauling is recovering, a conservation officer said Wednesday, following a "surprise attack" by a black bear that had come to inhabit a remote work camp in the time since the site had been vacated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The victim of a mauling is recovering, a conservation officer said Wednesday, following a "surprise attack" by a black bear that had come to inhabit a remote work camp in the time since the site had been vacated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was the first guys on site in over a year and a half," B.C. Conservation Officer Sgt. Eamon McArthur said Wednesday.

The worker suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries when the animal turned on him on Monday night. He was evacuated to hospital and a co-worker killed the animal.

All remaining camp employees subsequently left the area while conservation officers were called in to conduct a forensic investigation and ensure there was no ongoing safety risk. Officers have since given the all clear to reopen the camp

"We have advised them that they can go back to business as usual, as long as they're taking their safety into consideration because it is very remote," McArthur said. 

The camp is located about 70 kilometres northeast of Tsay Keh Dene, which is at the north end of Williston Lake. 

"It's quite far removed," McArthur said. "I believe they said something like on a good day, good road, it's two hours driving maybe from Tsay Keh."

The camp was clean, he also noted, and said attacks of that kind are rare.

"More often then not, when hazed, the bear will run away," McArthur said.

However, he also urged people working or recreating in bear country to take precautions.

"Read up on the area, have your pepper spray, have your air horns, bear bangers, whatever you need to assist yourself," McArthur said. "Carry a satphone, carry an InReach, so you can make contact if something bad should happen. And that's for an animal attack or anything - spraining your ankle."

On whether to carry a gun as a form of protection from bears, McArthur said the person should be licensed to possess and own and to follow the regulations.

"I can't say that people shouldn't have guns out in the wilderness but I will say that make sure you're operating safely with the guns," he said.

He also urged people to report wildlife-related incidents to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service by calling 1-877-952-7277. The line accepts calls around the clock.