British Columbia·Photos

Black bear mauls woman on Okanagan Highland hiking trail

One minute hiker Rachel Lautard was watching a dog pass her, the next minute, 'I was on my back with this bear on top of me.'

'The next thing I know I was on my back with this bear on top of me,' says Rachel Lautard

Rachel Lautard is recovering after tussling with a black bear while hiking in the Boundary Region of B.C. (Rachel Lautard/Robson Fletcher/CBC)

WARNING: This story contains a graphic photograph

A woman from Greenwood, B.C. is nursing her wounds after a bear knocked her flat on her back on an Okanagan hiking trail last weekend.

Rachel Lautard says she was mauled by the small black bear while camping near Conkle Lake Provincial Park, southeast of Kelowna in the Boundary Region.

"I couldn't believe this was happening to me," she said recalling the experience.

Lautard was on an afternoon hike with her family and a friend when she decided to pick up her pace and got ahead of the others.

She says she heard loud footsteps behind her so she turned around and saw a dog run by in a flash — followed quickly by a black bear charging towards her.

"The next thing I know I was on my back with this bear on top of me," she said. "I was wearing steel-toed work boots at the time and I was kicking and basically bicycling and screaming for help."

She doesn't remember how long the two tussled for as she struggled to get free.

"He bit into my leg and he was holding on but I was kicking as hard as I could."

One of the trails found in Conkle Lake Provincial Park, south of Kelowna, B.C. (B.C. Ministry of Environment)

Stitches needed

Lautard believes the bear may have been chasing the dog but attacked her instead.

She suspects the animal may have been distracted and eventually let go of her of her leg, after the dog returned.

"He got off, and I got up," said Lautard, who says she jumped to her feet despite being injured.

Her friend — who happened to be a doctor — then arrived. But the bear was reluctant to leave even as they flailed their arms and screamed at it.

After her friend "ran at it", she says the bear climbed up a tree and finally took off. The two then worked on getting her wounds dressed and helped her out of the bush.

She was left with two puncture wounds and a gash on her left calf that needed 10 stitches.

Lautard says she sees bears "all the time" and has even had another bear run at her but never with such ferocity and intensity.

After getting bitten by a bear, Rachel Lautard has had to keep her left leg propped up all week to let the wounds heal. (Rachel Lautard)

With files from Daybreak South