It’s not every day that you get to stand mere feet from a black bear and live to tell about it. Well, David Weale not only survived it, he caught the whole thing on video.
Weale was camping along Capilano River near the salmon hatchery in late July when he heard what sounded like footsteps around his campsite. He sat up and discovered a bear meandering dangerously close to his tent.
“He was maybe 20 feet away,” Weale tells Daily Hive. “After he saw me move, he came over and sort of started exploring and poking around the tent. After 10 minutes of him wandering around the tent, I got my camera out.”
“Either it’ll make a good story, or there will be evidence of what happened to me.”
Weale is a frequent camper who has had run-ins with black bears before, but they’ve never been quite so close as this curious bear ended up getting – in the video, the bear appears to be no more than four or five feet away from him.
“The instinct kicked in to stay very relaxed consciously,” he says.
Despite his relaxed disposition throughout the video, Weale says he started getting nervous when the bear pulled at his tent supports, causing the apparatus to collapse and forcing him out. To make matters worse, the bear stood between him and the only pathway back to his car.
“I didn’t realize how afraid I was until I did get away,” he says. “When I got back to my car, my heart just started racing – it’s just like that post-traumatic experience.”
Weale admits he had a couple of smoothies in his tent that he tossed at the bear as a distraction. The bear happily ate them.
Christine Miller with North Shore Black Bear Society notes that there are precautions campers can take if they encounter a bear.
“If you’re camping and you have anything in your tent, that’s a big mistake,” Miller tells Daily Hive. “You should have no food in your tent, no gum, no toothpaste, anything like that.”
She says to lock up food in your vehicle or string food supplies up a tree to avoid close encounters with bears. She recommends carrying bear spray with you at all times if you’re camping in the backcountry.