A B.C. man is recovering from shock after narrowly avoiding a grizzly bear attack in Robson Valley, southeast of Prince George.
Leon Lorenz, a wildlife filmmaker from Dunster, had been following grizzly bear tracks and filming the animals feeding in the forested area for the last six weeks. Last Monday afternoon, he spotted a mother bear with her back to him about 23 metres away. He immediately put his camera down and started recording.
Lorenz said he had moved his camera slightly to get a better view. That was when the 400-pound bear caught his scent.
She sniffed the air, then turned around and looked right at him, he said. She quickly wheeled around a spruce tree about four metres away, and reappeared with her cub behind her, roaring and charging at high speed toward Lorenz.
The critical events after that, said Lorenz, occurred in about 20 seconds.
He remembers instinctively throwing his camera into wide-angle mode so it would capture all the action, before whipping out his handgun to fire a warning shot.
“I was blinded because she was zigzagging in and out between the trees — I didn’t know if she was going to come at me from the right or the left,” he said. “I had no target.”
Lorenz aimed high and pulled the trigger — right when the bear came crashing through the branches several feet away. Spooked, she turned back around with her cub and ran off, said Lorenz.
“If I had waited a split-second later, she would have had me,” he said. “She was a blur, going by me, she was so fast. Even if I had hit her, her momentum would have carried her forward. She was running on so much adrenalin, she would have made sure I was dead before she died, and her cub probably would have attacked, too.”
He said he has filmed this particular grizzly twice before — once at 18 metres apart, another at 45 metres.
Both times, he was able to stay out of sight so that even when the bear could smell him, she had no way of locating him.
Lorenz, a father of two sons, said he has encountered many bears before in his 19 years of filmmaking in the wild, but he has never been attacked by them. This was the first time he has had to use his handgun to protect himself. “God’s hand was on that gun,” he said. “The timing couldn’t have been more perfect — she was out to kill me.”