Northern Sask. man fends off bear attack with wine bottle

A man from northern Saskatchewan needed to be airlifted to a Saskatoon hospital on Friday following a bear attack in northern Saskatchewan.

Attack happened near La Ronge, Sask., at around 4 a.m. CST on Friday

Jack Ballantyne, 44, is okay after encountering a bear in northern Saskatchewan Friday morning. (Rose Ballantyne/Facebook)

Family members say a Saskatchewan man is lucky to be walking away with only claw marks on his arm and a sore back after encountering a bear in a remote area near La Ronge, Sask., Friday morning.

At around 4 a.m. CST, Jack Ballantyne, 44, was out drinking near La Ronge, about 380 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

Ballantyne's younger sister, Rose, said her brother had lost some of his hearing and he didn't hear the bear approaching.

"All he remembers is that the bear took a swipe at him, hit him and he went flying," Rose Ballantyne said.

She said once her brother realized the threat, he used a wine bottle to fend of the bear.

"His hand was puffed up, too. He said he punched the bear in the nose," Rose said. "He did get a pretty big scratch on his arm. He was pretty stiff from being knocked over in the attack, but that's about it."

Airlifted to hospital

I'd say he's really lucky.- Rose Ballantyne

She added her brother sought medical attention a few hours later after seeing blood in his urine.

That's when a doctor in La Ronge suspected some internal bleeding after noticing fluid building up in his stomach. Rose Ballantyne said the doctor then advised to transport her brother to Saskatoon.

After spending the night in a hospital bed, on Saturday morning Jack Ballantyne walked away under his own power, but his family is counting their blessings because the bear encounter could have gone a lot worse.

"I'd say he's really lucky, I don't know what he did but he's very lucky and we're all relieved to see that he was okay," Rose Ballantyne said.

This latest wildlife attack comes a few weeks after a 26-year-old man was attacked by a wolf while working at Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine about 660 kilometres north of Saskatoon. In that attack, the man was also airlifted to Saskatoon, where he was expected to make a full recovery.

That incident was the third wolf attack in Saskatchewan in 12 years.