Warning: This story contains graphic images of an injury
WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg man says he’s fortunate to be alive after he was attacked by a bear near his cottage in Northwestern Ontario.
Dave Schwab said the attack happened on Thursday while he was walking near his cottage on Rice Lake, in Kenora, Ont.
The 69-year-old is an experienced hiker who said he was finishing a walk along a familiar route and heading back to his cottage when he spotted a black bear in the bushes ahead.
“He was probably about one hundred meters away from me and I do what I always do, I called out, I made lots of noise, and kept walking,” said Schwab.
He said the bear wandered back into the woods and appeared to have left.
“I still was quite vigilant and watching, and I got up to where he had left the road and suddenly I saw him sitting in the bush watching,” said Schwab.
Schwab said he tried again to scare the bear away, but it didn’t work. He said he continued to walk towards his cabin — about 500 metres away — but the bear followed.
“He was never more than about seven metres from me,” said Schwab. “I didn’t want to take the opportunity to stoop down and pick up a rock to throw — I wanted to keep myself tall.”
Schwab said the bear continued to follow him, until the animal circled around and got closer. He stopped for a moment — and that’s when the bear attacked.
“He latched onto my thigh, just kind of crunched down on it,” said Schwab.
“It’s almost miraculous because my knees came in towards my chest, which protected my organs. If I had fallen flat, I think he would’ve gone for my abdomen.”
Schwab tried to fight the bear off using his hands to push down on his snout. The bear then latched onto his arm. At that point, Schwab kicked the bear in the belly and managed to get him off.
After suffering two bites from the bear, Schwab began to backpedal towards his cabin in search of help.
“Then he came at me again. This time I took a birch log like a baseball bat and I wacked him across the snout, and it broke. He retreated again,” said Schwab.
The bear wouldn’t give up — he came at Schwab a third time, but he managed to fend him off with a kick to the snout.
As Schwab got closer to his cottage he began calling for help. Luckily, a group of contractors that were working on his property heard him and came to the rescue.
“They got in the truck, and they knew this was serious, they came ripping up the road towards me,” said Schwab.
“When they pulled me into the truck I was totally spent, emotionally and physically. They drove me to Kenora, I met an ambulance on the way and they took it from there.”
Schwab suffered muscle damage from the bites on his arm and thigh. He also needed stitches for some of the wounds.
He said adrenaline is what kept him going during the attack.
“I don’t remember pain, I don’t remember fear, you’re just in desperation mode, its fight or flight,” said Schwab.
“It’s a reminder to me of how thankful I am for life and how grateful I am to be alive.”
He said he’s seen bears near his cottage before, but has never seen one act this aggressively.
“If I learned anything from this, it’s don’t take wildlife for granted.”
Schwab said he’ll continue to walk and hike near his cottage, but he’ll always carry bear spray from now on.
Ontario Provincial Police said the bear that is believed to have attacked Schwab was found and put down.
Earlier this month, a 62-year-old Minnesota woman was killed by a black bear on Rainy Lake, near Fort Frances, Ont.
-With files from CTV’s Mike Arsenault