Conservation officers are combing through the eastern slopes of Butler Ridge Provincial Park in northern B.C., after a grizzly bear attacked a hunter on the weekend.
Ed Basha, 60, was hunting elk alone near the northern part of the park on Saturday. As he approached a berry patch, a grizzly charged him, conservation officer Brad Lacey said.
Basha, who is from Hudson's Hope, B.C., was able to fire a single shot from his rifle, but then the bear began mauling him.
"The bear initially hit him up high. Then went to his face, and worked his way down his body, a number of bites from the shoulder, and then through the legs," said Lacey.
Basha then "played dead" until the bear walked away.
Despite his injuries, he was able to walk to his car and drive for over an hour to get help.
According to Lacey, Basha drove to the nearest home, a farmhouse, where a woman then took him to a nearby oil and gas camp.
A paramedic at the camp, Gary Neufeld, was able to provide first aid and keep Basha stable until he was airlifted to a hospital in Fort St. John, B.C. He was then transferred to an Edmonton hospital where he remains in stable condition.
Basha's daughter-in-law, Teresa, told CBC News that Basha is an experienced hunter, and has been frequenting the area around Butler Ridge since the 1970s.
The day prior to the attack, Basha was hunting in the same area with his son, who eventually left to pick up his wife in Prince George, B.C., leaving his father to hunt alone, she said.
Lacey said officials have not been able to locate the bear or the exact location of the attack.
"That's been the biggest hurdle," he said. "He was alone, no one had witnessed it, nobody was with him at the time. Being able to locate that spot of the attack has been problematic."
Conservation officers plan to interview Basha to learn more about the attack. According to the B.C. Parks website, the Conservation Officer Service has sent a predator attack team to the park and is requesting people to stay clear of the area until the investigation is complete.
Lacey said bear encounters are more common this time of year as the animals search for food in preparation for winter.
Butler Ridge Provincial Park is located in the Peace River Regional District near Hudson's Hope.