Ben McGuffie didn’t hesitate when he heard two of his Nigerian dwarf goats making a racket after he headed to bed Monday night.
Dressed only in underwear and a T-shirt, the Quadra Island man jumped from his bed and ventured outside about 9:45 p.m. A third goat had inexplicably gone missing earlier in the day.
“So I went out there to have a look,” he said from the island, where his family runs SouthEnd Farm Winery. “My wife, Jill, was right behind me.”
What happened next would put McGuffie in the international spotlight.
The goats were clearly agitated — one flew by, and right behind it was a large brown shape. “I’ve never seen a goat go that fast through the pen,” he said. “I said: ‘Oh no, it’s a bear.”
And not just any bear — it turned out to be a grizzly, one of the few that occasionally venture onto Vancouver Island and surrounding areas. McGuffie said he knew right away that it was too big to be a black bear.
He grabbed the nearest thing — a long-handled brush — while his wife took a piece of plywood.
“We ran out there and started yelling at the bear. That didn’t do much good, so I hurled the brush at it and that caught its attention.”
The bear stopped and stared at them for a moment. At one point, it was within about 10 metres of them on the other side of a fence.
“We’re yelling at it and it’s not going anywhere, so I grabbed a rock, threw it at it and it took off after that. I must’ve hit it.”
A few media outlets caught wind of the story, and then a few more — some from outside the country — intrigued by the tale of an underwear-clad man fending off a wild animal.
The headlines have all been quite similar, he said — “Man in undies throws rock at grizzly bear.”
McGuffie said he has never seen a grizzly on Quadra Island, where he has lived since 1977, and just the occasional black bear.
“We don’t generally have any predators around here to worry about protecting the goats from.”
For now, the remaining two goats, one of them pregnant, are sleeping in the house, in case the grizzly has thoughts of returning.
The conservation officers who responded to his call after the incident told McGuffie his missing goat had likely been killed by the grizzly.
McGuffie said the officers said they’d been monitoring the bear for three and a half to four weeks.
“They were very aware of it. This was the most serious interaction they’ve had.”
The goat had disappeared Monday morning, even though she was being closely watched because of her pregnancy.
“It was extremely unusual,” McGuffie said. “They don’t just go wandering off.”
McGuffie said a grizzly was spotted on Quadra in 2007 but stayed well north of his property