Northern Ontario biologist 'dances' with bear

Thunder Bay biologist Rob Foster says he's lucky to be alive after meeting a predatory bear while doing field work for Northern Bio-Science, west of Timmins.

Thunder Bay man keeps a bear at bay for nearly an hour, uses bear spray

Thunder Bay biologist Rob Foster took this picture of the predatory black bear that pursued him for close to an hour in the Foleyet area of northern Ontario. He used bear spray to fend it off. (Supplied)

Thunder Bay biologist Rob Foster says he's lucky to be alive after meeting a predatory bear while doing field work for Northern Bio-Science, west of Timmins.

"The risk was always there that you run into a bear, " said Foster.

"And I've run into lots of bears, but I'd never thought I'd have a sustained attack. I do carry bear spray and now I always carry bear spray."

He said the bear charged at him repeatedly — even after he used his bear spray.

The biologist said making it back to his truck was like taking part in a 45-minute dance.

"We were like two feet away [from each other]," Foster described. "He'd stick his head out one side of the jack pine and I'd threaten to spray and he'd stick his head on the other side of the tree. It was almost comical, if the stakes hadn't been so high."

Foster, who has been working in the bush for more than 30 said he's "never sprayed a bear before."

"I've run into ... Grizzlies out west and black bears here, but never in a predatory attack."

'I didn't want it to end here'

The incident occurred last Sunday, when the Thunder Bay biologist was working about two kilometres from a back road near Groundhog River, in the Foleyet area.

He was sitting in a meadow when he heard a sound and looked up to see a large black bear.

He attempted to scare it off, but the bear charged anyway.

That's when Foster ran at the bear and blasted it at close range with pepper spray — twice.

"I was thinking of my wife and kids and thinking that I didn't want it to end here," he recalled.

Foster handled the situation appropriately, according to OPP Constable Marc Despatie.

"Some bears are docile and will go away at the first sign of human interaction," he said.

"But others are apparently a little more aggressive and we need to be wary of these particular types of animals."

Police have warned people in the area to exercise caution.