Family gets lost after fleeing bear while hiking, stumbles upon West Shore RCMP training exercise

Family gets lost after fleeing bear while hiking, stumbles upon West Shore RCMP training exercise
File Photo
A view of West Shore RCMP Bike Unit members and the family that stumbled upon them after getting disoriented on a hike.

Mounties were in the right place at the right time after a family experienced a distressing encounter with a bear which resulted in them losing orientation on a day hike in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park.

According to police, members of the West Shore RCMP’s Bike Unit were conducting Search and Rescue Training in the park when the situation unfolded on July 3.

Police say that at approximately 3 p.m. a distressed family — which included two young children — stumbled upon the training group having just encountered a black bear.

The family told police that after seeing the bear, they fled, which resulted in them losing their orientation.

RCMP says the family “ran right into the officers,” who identified themselves and were able to determine that the bear wasn’t still in the area.

The West Shore RCMP Bike Unit was able to escort the family back to their vehicle, safe and sound, without any further incident or encounters with a bear.

Although this story has a happy ending, RCMP is taking the time to remind hikers to be prepared for the elements while out exploring this summer.

“The West Shore RCMP have seen an increase in calls from lost and disoriented hikers,” reads a statement from RCMP. “This often requires officers to hike into the bush after dark to retrieve people and guide them out.”

Below are a few tips being offered by RCMP for anyone considering going on a hike now that restrictions have been lifted in the province:

  • Always tell someone where you are going and which route you are planning to take;
  • If you are new to the trail systems, take a map with you or snap a photo of the trail system to keep on your phone;
  • If you are planning a long hike, pack a power bank in your backpack for your cellular phone;
  • Pack first aid supplies – even a small pack is good as you never know what you may encounter;
  • Water;
  • More water;
  • Secure all food and attractants to remove the temptation to wildlife;
  • Check the weather before you leave;
  • Carry a whistle, should you need assistance it carries much farther than your voice;
  • If you are in bear country, watch for scat and digs. If you see any, turn around and find a new path;
  • Be loud to let bears know you are around, they will avoid you if they are able to;
  • Keep small children close, if they run it could trigger the bear to attack;
  • If you do see a bear, make a calm loud noise, (non-threatening) and back away slowly, leaving the area.

Multiple times, since the start of the pandemic, Search and Rescue teams in B.C. have also indicated there have been increased calls from distressed hikers in the backcountry as well. Authorities say this has been a result of more British Columbians exploring nature within the borders of our province as other travel options remain restricted.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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