Editor's note: there is harsh language in this story
“Smoking almost kills, apparently!” was the first comment from Melanie Porter when connecting with The Citizen after she reached out to say she had a close encounter with a bear.
“Bear licks hooman,” Porter quipped with a groan.
Thursday night Porter went out to her dimly-lit porch at the front of her Quesnel home to have a smoke.
She was sitting in a deep, low chair, tucked in cozily to enjoy her smoke and look at her phone.
She saw something dark move in her front yard and she thought it was one of the many neighbourhood cats.
“I look up and it’s a bear and I freeze,” Porter explained. “I’m thinking ‘oh, what do I do? What do I do?' I’m just going to stay still.”
That’s when it comes right up to her.
“And I’m thinking ‘oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, shit, shit,’ and it sniffs me and it licks. my. right. hand.” Porter said. “And then I’m thinking ‘oh, what’s it going to do, what’s it going to do, what’s it going to do” and then it tries to lick my hand again and it kind of opened its mouth and then (deep breath here) I grabbed my arm back and he kind of backed up and then it brought its paws up and it looked like it was going to stand up and I was like ohmygawd I am going to pick up my phone and take a picture because who’s going to believe me? And if I die at least they’ll see who the culprit is.”
Through the entire experience Porter, who is a licensed practical nurse, never made a sound.
When the bear was far enough away, Porter retreated back into her house. She didn't realize she’d left her door open a crack so when she tried to lean into it to open it she fell backwards into her home. The only injury she sustained from her too-close-for-comfort bear encounter was a sore back from the fall.
After it happened Porter called her neighbour who lives across the street who checked her cameras.
“She said that bear was there longer than I would’ve like to have seen,” Porter said.
The bear was by her front-lawn tree, not 10 feet away from her, the entire time she was outside.
“It was so dark and he was so quiet and stealthy I didn’t see him,” Porter marvelled. “I was sitting 10 feet away from a bear the whole time.”
The takeaway from having such a terrifying experience with one of nature’s most powerful beasts?
Porter has a girlfriend whose brother died horribly and was partially eaten by a bear a few years back and that recall came rushing back as one of the many what-ifs that crossed her mind trying to process the terrifying event.
And she thinks it might be in the cards to quit smoking now.
Her dad died three years ago and the loss still radiates within her.
“I know my dad must've been watching over me,” Porter said as she lives to tell the tale when bear licked a human.