Update: A Campbell River man attacked by a grizzly bear Wednesday will undergo a second surgery and spend up to six weeks in hospital in Victoria, family members say.
Ryan Arsenault, a forestry engineer in his 30s, was mauled by a grizzly while working at a remote logging camp about 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy on the mainland.
A co-worker was able to fend off the bear with pepper spray, but Arsenault suffered damage to his left arm, a broken right leg and a severe laceration to his head. He was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
Arsenault’s sister has started an online fundraising campaign to help the husband and father of two young daughters.
A Campbell River husband and father has serious injuries after being attacked by a grizzly bear in a remote logging camp north of Vancouver Island.
Ryan Arsenault, a forestry engineer, was attacked Wednesday afternoon near Rivers Inlet at Draney Inlet, on the Central Coast, about 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy, said Arsenault’s boss, Larry Fedorkie.
Another worker was nearby and came to Arsenault’s aid, using bear spray to deter the grizzly.
“His quick actions certainly saved [Arsenault’s] life,” said Fedorkie, vice-president of Capacity Forest Management.
Arsenault suffered serious injuries to his left arm, including tissue and muscle damage, a broken right leg and a severe laceration to his head.
Arsenault, who is in his 30s, was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital for treatment. He underwent surgery on Thursday.
Fedorkie said forestry workers have been removed from the area and given trauma counselling.
The situation has been difficult for Arsenault’s wife and two daughters, Fedorkie said, “but knowing he’s going to survive, there’s comfort in that.”
Arsenault has been working for Capacity Forest Management for eight years and is “part of the heart and soul of the organization,” Fedorkie said.
Conservation officer Scott Norris said the B.C. Conservation Service is investigating the circumstances of what he characterized as a “major attack.”
Officers with the service’s specialized predator attack team were flown to the area on Thursday to assess any public-safety risk and to try to determine what happened.
“It’s never cut and dry that a bear will be destroyed because it attacked someone,” Norris said.
Conservation officers are working with a biologist who specializes in large carnivores to assess the bear’s behaviour.
Norris said March and April are the usual months for bears to emerge from their dens after a winter of hibernation.
“Bears don’t typically look at humans as prey items,” he said. “They emerge hungry, obviously, any bear does … but you don’t want to jump to the conclusion that the bear’s hungry and it attacked an individual.”
Four grizzly bear attacks were reported in B.C. last year and seven in 2015.
— With files from the Canadian Press