British Columbia

Whistler tourist has eye-to-eye encounter with black bear

"It got up on its hind legs and was literally standing right over me. I could feel its breath moving my hair," said Colorado woman Sherry Moore.

'It got up on its hind legs and was literally standing right over me. I could feel its breath moving my hair'

A Whistler tourist is feeling lucky after a close encounter with a black bear while jogging on a popular trail. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press)

A Colorado woman said she could feel the breath of a black bear on her face after the animal charged, reared up on its hind legs and looked her straight in the eyes last weekend in Whistler.

Sherry Moore inadvertently captured part of the encounter on her phone.

"It literally came at me really fast and was making these horrible noises, these huffing noises. And it was crunching its jaw," she said. "And I'm like, 'OK, I'm about to be eaten by a bear, that's it.' 

"It got up on its hind legs and was literally standing right over me. I could feel its breath moving my hair."

Moore said she was stunned silent for a few seconds before instincts kicked in.

"I started yelling at it like a dog. 'No! Get back! Get down!' And it backed up, went down on all fours and walked slowly away from me."

The five-foot-one-inch woman believes it was divine intervention that stopped the bear from swiping or biting her.

"Thank God it worked out the way it did," she said.

'If a bear approaches you, you want to back away slowly, give that bear some space. But if it keeps following you, that 's when you want to get more assertive,' says WildSafe B.C.'s Vanessa Isnardy. (Becky Bohrer/The Associated Press)

The encounter happened at around 5 p.m. on July 27 while Moore was jogging on the Valley Trail between Wayside Park and Nita Lake. 

She had stopped to take a selfie when the animal appeared further up the trail.

Moore said she thought it was a safe distance away to take a photo, but then the bear started moving quickly toward her.

As she began to back away slowly, the bear charged. 

"I don't know how I stayed calm," she said. "I'm still trying to figure that one out."

Moore didn't realize she had captured some of the incident on her phone until later.

"I ran about a mile and a half before I came across a lady with a bicycle and I asked her to stop. I said, 'Can you please just wait with me for a minute, I just had a bear encounter.' She looked at me like, 'Yeah right.' And I said I have proof, I have a picture. And then I went, 'Oh, I have a video!'"

Vanessa Isnardy, spokeswoman for WildSafe B.C., says most black bear encounters are a non-issue.

"These bears are not interested in us, they're foraging for other food," she said. "However, if a bear approaches you, you want to back away slowly, give that bear some space. But if it keeps following you, that's when you want to get more assertive."

As a resident of the Denver area, Moore is familiar with basic bear safety.

This weekend she's planning a hike with friends in the hope it will help purge some of the residual shock. 

"I have to get past my fear and anxiety," she said. "Everyone's like, 'Don't worry, you won't see another bear, you've had your life experience,' but you can't think like that. I could very well come across another one and it could be a whole different situation."

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