Two Nova Scotia women say they had a close escape from a black bear while travelling in the Annapolis Valley.
The three-hour ordeal ended with the pair cowering in an old hunter's shack while the bear pawed the walls of the building outside.
Nikki Latta, 23, and Lindsay Jones, 25, headed into the woods near Port George on the Bay of Fundy shore Monday evening. Latta was familiar with the area, but Jones wasn't. The two joked about a bear attack — Jones is terrified of them.
Then a passing dog got spooked and ran away.
'It's following us. It's hungry, it's not scared. It's going to eat us.'—Nikki Latta
"I looked up at Lindsay and there’s the bear, standing literally five feet behind her. Our hearts stopped. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing," Latta said.
She gaped at the creature. Jones realized something was wrong.
"I turned around and there was my worst nightmare," Jones said. "I covered my eyes and stupidly hugged a tree."
Screaming didn’t faze the bear. "I tried to sound aggressive, but it didn’t scare it," Latta said.
Instead, the bear ambled over and sniffed Jones’s purse. Latta bolted. Jones followed.
Barefoot vs. bear foot
The two women raced down a ravine, losing their flip-flops. Jones says they moved faster barefoot.
"We grabbed each other's hands and started running. After a few minutes we thought we were OK. We thought it had our purses, and that was fine," Latta said.
"It turns out it was right behind us that whole time, quietly following us. I thought that was it. It’s following us. It’s not scared, it’s hungry. It’s going to eat us."
The women ran again, uphill this time. But the bear stuck with them.
"It got a little more aggressive and started huffing and puffing and making a gurgling noise. I started running. I was falling and it was right behind me," Latta said.
Safety in a hunter's shack
Luckily, the pair stumbled upon a hunter’s shack 40 minutes after first seeing the bear. Jones broke the window and dove inside. Latta crawled through the broken glass to reach sanctuary.
"It was the happiest moment ever," Latta said.
The bear strolled around the camp — the women say it even pawed at the door. At one point, it reached inside and grabbed the drapes.
The women called police, but couldn’t tell them exactly where they were. The officers arrived and sounded their siren from a distance.
That finally scared off the bear. The armed officers found the women and escorted them to safety. The women say they'd been in the shack for about two hours.
The women estimate the incident stretched almost three hours. Latta and Jones suffered no injury more serious than a few cuts.
Both got matching bear paw tattoos to commemorate the encounter.
"It’s my favourite spot in the world. I’ve never heard of black bears being there." Latta said.
Bruce Nunn, with the Department of Natural Resources, said the department has hired trappers to try and catch the bear.