Both of Randal Warnock’s knees are bandaged up, as well as a finger after a close-encounter with a juvenile grizzly bear where Warnock punched the bear in the nose to escape. — Courtesy Randal Warnock

UPDATED: Qualicum Beach man attacked by grizzly bear north of Van. Island

BC Ferry captain says punching bear in nose got it to release his leg from its jaws

An evening stroll along the beach is not usually this dangerous.

Qualicum Beach man and BC Ferries captain Randal Warnock is resting up at home after being attacked by a juvenile grizzly bear while taking a stroll on a small island north of Vancouver Island near the mainland on Monday, July 17.

On his way to captain a ferry run between Bella Coola and Bella Bella, Warnock said he left Port Hardy on his boat Monday morning, and was just north of Cape Caution at about 6 p.m. when the weather started getting rough.

So he anchored his boat in Millbrook Cove, and thought he’d stretch his legs with a walk on the beach of a small island just off the coast.

He figures the wind and noise of the waves on the beach might have contributed to his accidentally startling a juvenile grizzly bear after picking up a discarded buoy to re-use.

“I turn around and like a foot away from where I picked up the buoy, a grizzly bear charged out of the bush, full bore, straight at me, and was on me within a couple of seconds,” said Warnock.

“First thing I thought was, ‘Ah shit, is this how it’s all going to end?’”

After not getting a good grip on his left leg, the grizzly clamped down on his right knee and started shaking him violently, he said.

“I’m yelling and screaming at him (then I) remembered I had a knife. I’ve got to protect myself somehow and fight back, so I pull my knife out but I was off balance, he was shaking me. I dropped the knife.”

But, with the bear’s face below and in front of him, Warnock decided bare hands would have to do.

“I just hauled off and punched him hard as I could right on the nose, and that stopped him,” he said.

The bear reared up and stared at him from about two feet away. When it made to lunge at him, Warnock fell backwards onto a bank, grabbed a log and tried to hurl it at the bear, but it slipped and dropped between them, he said. But that was enough. The bear turned and ran away.

From there, Warnock said he hobbled back to his skiff, dripping blood, got back to his boat and bandaged himself up.

Knowing that the area has little to no radio reception, he travelled about an hour to get a radio signal and contact the coast guard.

John Millman, a Maritime Co-ordinator at the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria, said the centre got the call from Victoria Coast Guard Radio North, and sent two vessels out to get him. By about 9 p.m., the coast guard reached Warnock, one vessel taking him aboard and medevacing him to Port Hardy, the other taking control of his vessel on his behalf to pilot it back.

The most painful part of the whole ordeal was the stitches and cleaning of his wounds, said Warnock, adding doctors were done with him by about 3 a.m.

Warnock returned home to Qualicum Beach Thursday evening, and said he’s expected to make a full recovery and have full use of his leg.

Overall, he said, it’s “not too bad compared to what it could have been … I feel very lucky.”

Asked if he has a takeaway from all of this, he said he’ll be on the lookout for bears in the future, carry bear spray, and stay away from remote mainland beaches on the north coast, especially ones near salmon rivers.

[gps-image name=”7810300_web1_170722-PQN-M-RandalWarnockBearAttack-crop-sub-170722.jpg”]

Just Posted

More Parksville Qualicum school families to get hampers this Christmas

School district, business giving project exceeds last year’s total

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

RCMP investigate mailbox theft in Qualicum Beach area

Four rural community boxes pried open overnight Dec. 12

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

RDN to proceed with Bowser Wastewater Project

Board endorse plan to work on design, tendering and construction of the sewer system

Qualicum Beach dancers shine in showcase

QB School of Dance hosts annual winter show

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Guests invited to free Christmas dinner in Qualicum Beach

Christian Fellowship Centre hosts 20th annual feast

MAP: Christmas lights displays to check out in Parksville Qualicum Beach

The NEWS is compiling a list/map to aid in the search for great local Christmas displays

Police continue to seek missing Qualicum Beach woman

Oceanside RCMP requesting public assistance in locating Carmel Georgina Gilmour

Two-car crash in front of Parksville fire department

One woman checked for minor injuries

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Most Read