'If the bear wanted me … I'm the bear's lunch': Jogger comes close enough to touch grizzly in Calgary park

Tresa Gibson was jogging in a southwest Calgary park when her dog started barking at something in the brush at the side of the trail. She assumed it was a deer or smaller animal — so was terrified to come within touching distance of a grizzly.

Griffith Woods Park closed to public after multiple bear sightings

A rise in human encounters with bears could be in store for Kananaskis Country.
A grizzly bear, like this one, has been repeatedly spotted in Griffith Woods Park in southwest Calgary in the past week. (Rick Price Photography)

Six days before Fish and Wildlife officials closed a southwest Calgary park due to a bear in the area, a Calgary jogger came face to face with a massive grizzly. 

Griffith Woods Park was closed to the public Tuesday night so officers could set traps in an attempt to catch the bear. 

Last Wednesday, Tresa Gibson was jogging with her dog it gave a few barks at something in the brush.

She assumed it was likely a deer or another smaller animal, but when she jogged up, she was terrified to see a grizzly chewing branches on the side of the trail.

She said by the time she noticed the bear's massive head, she was close enough to touch it.

Tresa Gibson says she came face to face with the grizzly last Wednesday while running the Griffith Woods trails with her dog. (Kate Adach/CBC)

"He is big, but honestly once I registered his head, I did go to fight or flight. I needed to get out of there," Gibson told CBC News Wednesday.

At that point, she called her dog and ran away fast, for about kilometre and a half.

Gibson said she has run in the park every day for the past 10 years. Despite the odd wildlife encounter, she had never before come across a bear, she said.

"The truth is, if the bear wanted me, that was it. I'm the bear's lunch. So I think that was the scary part, to have to surrender that way. To know there's nothing I could truly do," she said.

'Just doing its own thing'

Trevor Miller, the superintendent for the southern region with Alberta Fish and Wildlife, says there have been at least five grizzly sightings reported in and around the park in the past few weeks.

Despite multiple sightings, Fish and Wildlife didn't close the park to the public until Tuesday night. 

Miller said they were reluctant to put traps in sooner, and risk attracting other animals.

"We generally do not take that kind of action until we know where the bear's frequenting over and over," he said.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife has set two of these traps in Griffith Woods Park. The traps are baited and if the grizzly is caught, it will be tagged and relocated. (Genevieve Normand/Radio-Canada)

Miller said the bear's behaviour didn't indicate it felt threatened by the presence of people.

"From what I understand it was a bear that was just doing its own thing," he said. "During the encounters, people got relatively close to it but it didn't make any aggressive postures or stance. It was quite tolerant, just went upon its normal feeding behaviour."

Fish and Wildlife have set up two large traps in the area. Miller says if officers catch the grizzly, it will be tagged and relocated. 

With files from Kate Adach