Bison attacks trapper's dog team

A trapper from Fort Chipewyan, Alta., says he's lucky to be alive after a bison charged and trampled his dog team.

Fort Chipewyan man says bull bison probably mistook dog team for a wolf pack

A trapper from Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta says he's lucky to be alive after a bison charged and trampled his dog team.

Robert Grandjambe, 50, had just checked his trapline Feb. 4 and was heading back to his cabin with his dog team when his lead dog stopped.

"I should have listened to my dogs," he said. "She stopped and she came back but I made her go again. But she was very uneasy."

They rounded a curve on the narrow trail and there was a bull bison charging straight at them.

"I never believed buffalo could run that fast," he said. "It was a big bull. He had his head down and I jumped. I bailed, and just as I bailed, I saw one of my dogs, the black dog closer to the back, he was flung up in the air."

Grandjambe says the bison was probably being bothered by wolves and mistook the dogs for a pack. He had seen signs of wolves while checking his lynx snares.

The bison stomped over the sled and dogs, ran about 50 metres down the trail and stopped.

"He was standing there, flicking his tail and licking his mouth," said Grandjambe.

His dogs survived the attack. Grandjambe said he got out of there as fast as he could and put distance between his team and the bison before stopping to untangle their harnesses.

"My leader got stepped on, on her neck. It was just a blood blister. My wheel dog, he doesn’t seem to be hurt but he’s not the same."

He said he has heard of bison charging people and dog teams but it’s very rare.

"People have said 'why didn’t you shoot it?' Oh my God, it’s just a second, a split second. I’m looking after my safety rather than digging in my sled for my gun and I only had a small gun, too. Just a .22."

Grandjambe said he is one of the few trappers in his area who still uses a dog team. He said if anyone learns something from his story, it should be to trust their dog’s instincts.

"My leader stopped and she started to come back. That’s a strong indication. I could have stopped there and walked ahead to see what was wrong."