A Canadian black bear might remain tightlipped for a while.
The bear that attacked a man in the woods near Grand Falls, New Brunswick, lost the fight after the bear’s victim grabbed its tongue and didn’t let go, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation reports.
“When I opened up my eyes it was on top of me — with the friggin’ noise, it’s crazy the way it growls,” woodlot owner Gilles Cyr said describing the attack that took place two weeks ago. “His mouth was wide open right in front of my face so the last thing I remember I had his tongue in my hand and I didn’t want to let go because he was trying to fight me off.”
He said his strategy was instinctual. “He was hitting me with his claws, so I says, ‘If you're going to hurt me, I’m going to hurt you too.’ So he was biting his tongue at the same time,” he said.
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Cyr escaped the bear’s grasp and hid behind a tree. The bear followed him but eventually lost interest. Cyr was treated for superficial wounds to his stomach and knee, CBC reports.
“For a second, I thought I was dead,” Cyr said. “That’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you open your eyes and see that friggin’ mouth full of teeth and a tongue in there.”
A warden told Cyr he would be able allowed to find the bear and kill it as a nuisance animal, but an official with Natural Resources Canada said Cyr might need a permit to do so.
As for Cyr’s unusual way of wrangling an animal that can weigh up to 600 pounds, he said it came down to a matter of logistics. “What else could I grab?” Cyr said. “There’s no way you can hold a bear and it’s on top of you so you have nowhere to go but the mouth.”
The latest bear attack comes after a summer of near-fatal bear encounters in the province.
"I came out of my house, I was going to have my coffee, instead I got chased by a bear," Adelbert Rousselle, a Fredericton man who was chased by a black bear in July said. "I thought it was a raccoon behind me, I just looked around and there was a big bear there ... I ran in the house and he came right behind me and chased me right through the door."
In recent years, New Brunswick has had a rising black bear population most likely due to a drop in hunting. Compared to 1978 when the province sold 12,500 bear hunting licenses, just over 5,000 licenses were sold last year. The bear population has since rose in the maritime province. There are an estimated 17,000 black bears in New Brunswick compared to 12,000 eight years ago.